Metro

Lawmakers question new hospital’s cost

BERLIN, Vt. — Some lawmakers have been questioning the costs of Vermont’s new state psychiatric hospital.

The direct-care, staff-to-patient ratio at the Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital in Berlin will be nearly twice that of the now-closed Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury, said Representative Anne Donahue.

The old hospital lost its federal certification and funding about eight years before flooding from Tropical Storm Irene forced it to close in 2011.

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The new facility’s first-year operating budget is about $19 million. That’s less than the $22 million spent at the Waterbury hospital the year before it closed, but that facility was more than double the size.

Jeff Rothenberg, the hospital’s chief executive, said the staffing levels are needed to provide top-notch psychiatric care. It is set to open in July.