And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
— Matthew 7:26
A few months ago I was chatting, off the record, with a former Shumlin administration functionary. The subject turned to post-Irene mental health care, on which I have been very critical of the administration. This person expressed pride in the new Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital, calling it a “showplace” and urging me to take a tour.
And perhaps I will. But here’s the thing.
Building a building is the easy part. You can usually rustle up the necessary funds, with or without auctioning the naming rights. Government money, grant funding, foundation support, private donors — all are attracted to flashy new things.
It’s a lot less flashy to operate the building once the ribbon has been cut. Management, maintenance, operating costs; attracting and maintaining quality staff and motivating them to excel; creating the systems that will ensure performance equal to the bright shiny promise of the new edifice.
Am I talking about the new state psychiatric hospital here? You betcha.
The hospital has never been fully and properly staffed. Hard work and low pay — and a dangerous work environment — have proven to be strong disincentives to recruitment, and VPCH has suffered from a high attrition rate.
I’ve been hearing background chatter about this, but recently we’ve seen two stories documenting VPCH’s troubles.