Governor Dan McKee
Governor Dan McKee. Photo courtesy of Governor Dan McKee Facebook Page

PROVIDENCE, RI – Fulfilling plans announced one year ago, Governor Dan McKee and Richard Charest, Director of the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH), gathered today on Howard Avenue in Cranston to announce the licensing of a new state psychiatric hospital. Securing the new license will improve patient care and better position the State to seek federal reimbursements that help pay for patient care.

The Rhode Island State Psychiatric Hospital (RISPH), located in the Roosevelt Benton facility, will continue the mission that the Benton facility had as part of Eleanor Slater Hospital – to treat psychiatric and court-ordered forensic patients who have serious mental illnesses.

With the RISPH operating as a standalone hospital, the state will be better positioned to care for psychiatric patients. In addition, the state will be better positioned to seek federal matches that help support patient care within Eleanor Slater Hospital. Based on current patient trends, those additional matches are projected to be, on average, about $30 million to $40 million a year.

“One year ago, we committed to opening a standalone psychiatric hospital as part of our long-term vision for improving our state hospital system, and today we are making good on that commitment,” said Governor McKee. “This is good news for the patients who need the specialized care that is provided here, and it is good news for our state, because it provides access to available federal dollars that help support the care of our patients.”

“Licensure of the Benton facility as a standalone hospital marks a critical step in our work to transform Rhode Island’s behavioral health continuum of care by preserving and improving access to quality, cost effective healthcare,” said Executive Office of Health & Human Services Acting Secretary Ana Novais. “Patients and their families deserve a psychiatric hospital that best meets the needs of those who require specialized care. I am thankful to Governor McKee, elected officials, community partners and our staff who made today possible.”

“This is an important day for Rhode Island and for our state’s healthcare system, and it is made possible by the hard work of many dedicated employees, as well as the support of state lawmakers, state health officials, and other state agencies, and we thank all of them for helping to make this new hospital a reality,” said BHDDH Director Charest. “While the day-to-day operations at Benton will not change, this allows the treatment and care that we provide at Benton to be subject to standards that are more appropriate for psychiatric hospitals, and that will help our staff as they care for our patients.”

“Eleanor Slater Hospital is an essential part of the Rhode Island health system. The separation of the Benton Facility to a standalone psychiatric hospital is an important step in the reorganization of the state hospital that will provide access to critical funds necessary to support quality and safety for both patients and hospital employees,” said M. Teresa Paiva Weed, President, Hospital Association of Rhode Island.
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Operating as a standalone hospital, the Benton facility will continue to treat psychiatric patients, including those who have severe and persistent mental illness and are incompetent to stand trial, those who have been found not guilty by reason of insanity and deemed too dangerous for current release, and those who are serving prison sentences and require specialized treatment not available at the Adult Correctional Institutions.

Licensing the new hospital is one piece of a long-term plan to invest in Rhode Island’s state hospital system. The state budget adopted this year initiates several long-term capital investments, including a new facility on the Zambarano Campus in Burrillville, renovations at the Regan building on the Pastore Campus and the procurement of an electronic medical records system.

At the same time, Eleanor Slater Hospital and BHDDH, with help from the Governor’s Office, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services and the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, resolved dozens of concerns raised by CMS, The Joint Commission and the State Fire Marshal. The licensing of the new hospital is the latest of these significant accomplishments.

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