The Taunton State Hospital specializes in treating a serious subset of the mentally ill, including people with severe psychosis. Patients include women who are too dangerous to be in correctional facilities and men fresh from the higher-security Bridgewater facility for the criminally insane. It’s a population that can’t easily — or, in some cases, safely — be absorbed into the state Department of Mental Health’s network of community-based group homes.
Nonetheless, the Patrick administration is still planning to shutter the 169-bed facility by year’s end and insists that there are enough beds to accommodate the patients at other facilities. It’s a reasonable decision, but the state shouldn’t take such a difficult-to-reverse step without an independent analysis. Such a study shouldn’t consume much time, but should answer lingering questions. Will the loss of the hospital leave a gap in mental health services from Brockton to Cape Cod, as critics contend? Or is it a meaningless geographic distinction in a statewide system, as the administration responds?