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Fulfilling plans announced one year ago, Governor Dan McKee and BHDDH Director Richard Charest recently announced the licensing of a new state psychiatric hospital. Securing the new license improves patient care and better positions the State to seek federal reimbursements that help pay for patient care. Based on current patient trends, the matching federal funding that help support the care of medically ill patients at Eleanor Slater Hospital, are projected to be, on average, about $30 million to $40 million a year.
The Rhode Island State Psychiatric Hospital (RISPH), located in the Roosevelt Benton facility, continues 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. This also includes 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.
Since 2018, the Roosevelt Benton Center has operated as a unit within Eleanor Slater Hospital (ESH), providing services for court-ordered forensic patients. As State leaders have contemplated changes for ESH, it became clear that the Benton Center, which underwent an extensive $8 million renovation in 2018 and serves up to 52 patients, should operate as a standalone state forensic psychiatric hospital. The RI Department of Health approved a license for the RI State Psychiatric Hospital (RISPH) in late October 2022.
By operating Benton under a separate license, it reduces the number of psychiatric patients at ESH, better positioning the State to seek federal reimbursements for patient care at ESH. Unlike most patients at ESH, forensic patients are not eligible for federal reimbursements. However, they are counted as psychiatric patients in the semi-annual census that determines ESH’s eligibility for federal Medicaid reimbursements for patients under age 65. This made it difficult for the hospital to qualify for the federal reimbursements, because federal Medicaid rules prevent the hospital from seeking federal reimbursements for patients under age 65 when more than 50 percent of its patients are psychiatric.