State plans to house COVID-19 positive psychiatric patients at Woodside

Published: Mar. 25, 2020 at 5:52 PM EDT
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Young offenders housed at Vermont's only juvenile rehabilitation center have been moved to make way for psychiatric patients who may test positive with COVID-19.

After discussions with hospitals, state officials on Tuesday determined those in need of mental health treatment should be treated at the Woodside facility in Colchester should they test positive for the coronavirus. That means four young offenders who have been housed there have been relocated to an interim facility in St. Albans.

DCF Commissioner Ken Schatz says it will be a work in progress to get everything back to normal there, but some staff have already raised concerns, calling the new location an unsafe situation and a hostile work environment.

"I have not heard directly. I'm glad to immediately -- after my testimony -- to talk with the Family Service Division leadership to make sure we do talk with staff to figure out what their perceptions are and do our best to address them," Schatz said.

He said he acknowledges that the decision caught some by surprise and wasn't as thorough as the state would have liked, but he says it was the best move to help the community during the pandemic.

The state had already been planning to demolish Woodside and replace it with a $14.5 million mental health facility for adults after ongoing concerns that the facility is not a therapeutic environment for juveniles.

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