Another dose of bad news for Vermont’s mental health care system: Dr. Jay Batra, the medical director for the Department of Mental Health and, until Irene, head of the Vermont State Hospital, is leaving at the end of this month for a job in the private sector.
Coming on the heels of Patrick Flood’s resignation as DMH head, and the news of a 50% increase in projected spending for mental health care next year, this is yet another sign of serious trouble in the system.
The only real surprise in Dr. Batra’s departure is that it didn’t happen sooner. He made it very clear that he was left out of the loop when the Shumlin Administration was formulating its plan to replace VSH. And since the hospital’s closure, he’s been trying to patch together a hideously overtaxed system with baling wire and duct tape.
In the short run, his departure means that patching job will go on a while longer. The state’s eight-bed facility in Morrisville is about ready to go online, but it can’t operate without a medical director. That would have been Dr. Batra.
Acting Mental Health Commissioner [Mary] Moulton says she trying to find a local psychiatrist would can step in and do the job, perhaps in affiliation with another hospital in Vermont.
I think she’s going to have a lot of trouble on that score. Local psychiatrists, as well as nurses and other caregivers, know exactly how dire the situation is. It’d take a remarkably selfless individual to agree to take charge of this mess.