CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — After a scathing report highlighted potential safety risks at Eleanor Slater Hospital, the state the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH) is working to relocate its psychiatric patients.
After a thorough assessment of state buildings, the agency concluded the newly vacated Roosevelt Benton Center is the only viable immediate relocation option for patients.
While long-term planning for the future of the Eleanor Slater was already underway, the preliminary finding by The Joint Commission last month that the hospital’s current facilities are not adequate for accreditation required a more immediate move to ensure patient safety.
BHDDH Director Rebecca Boss said this will be a positive change for the hospital, and that most of the people affected include those considered as forensic patients, such as individuals with a psychiatric illness who may have been deemed not competent to stand trial.
“They have a lot of safety risks, we really need to update them, and move people into better facilities,that are safer, that allow for better patient safety and staff safety as well,” Boss said Friday. “The Benton center is a much newer facility, it’s much more appropriate to the needs of the forensic population.”
With aging facilities and and the commission’s new emphasis on ligature (self-harm) risks due to an increase in hospital suicides across the country, BHDDH said the majority of the hospital’s physical space was deemed inadequate for accreditation.
“BHDDH has been working diligently to ensure the safety and security of our patients,” Boss added. “Using the Roosevelt Benton Center in this urgent situation allows us to move the forensic patients from the Phillippe Pinel Building and the Adolph Meyer Building to a safer and more secure facility. Our patients’ safety is our number one concern, and the Benton Center allows us to ensure that long-term.”
Prior to its vacancy, the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) occupied the Benton Center. The BDDH said an incident that took place in July prompted the department to consolidate their youth into the Rhode Island Training School, thus vacating the Benton Center.
“As outlined in our recent report on the Training School, DCYF is currently not utilizing the Roosevelt Benton Center,” said DCYF Director Trista Piccola. “To enhance the safety and security of our youth and staff, we consolidated all our youth residents into one building (the Youth Development Center) on July 31, 2017. We have found that operating one facility instead of two provides significant advantages related to safety and security, and we intend to remain in one building for now, as our population size allows. We support the immediate use of the Benton Center by BHDDH for Eleanor Slater Hospital patients.”