Chief Nursing Officer Meghan Baston and management at The Brattleboro Retreat are ruining a once great psychiatric hospital – and Vermont’s most vulnerable psychiatric patients are paying the price. Since taking over The Brattleboro Retreat three years ago, Brattleboro Retreat Chief Nursing Officer Meghan Baston and her fellow management team have created a toxic culture of fear, intimidation, and retaliation. The safety of frontline caregivers and psychiatric patients is being put at risk due to Baston’s dangerous policies and actions.
Patients are living in an unsafe environment, without proper oversight. In April, a teenage patient was attacked by two other patients on a floor that was understaffed and did not have sufficient oversight. Incidents like this would be entirely avoidable with proper staffing.
Management has continuously understaffed the facility and broken up the teams of nurses and health professionals who work with psychiatric patients – creating a dangerous work environment. In addition, management failed to provide adequate personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic, putting caregivers even more at risk.
In the last 16 months, more than 300 staff members have left the Retreat. To fill this significant void, management has hired unfamiliar, traveling nurses to care for psychiatric patients who need familiarity to thrive. These traveling nurses come at double the cost of regular staff.
Frontline caregivers have described a culture of arbitrary punishment and fear of reprisal from management for even the slightest missteps. In many cases, caregivers were ordered to work back to back 8 hour shifts, creating over-tired workers who are more prone to make mistakes – mistakes they have been punished for.