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2011 Commissioner Leadholm profile photoBy DMH Commissioner Barbara Leadholm

With less than a year until the opening of the Department of Mental Health’s new Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital (WRCH) I want to take the opportunity to thank the hundreds of individuals — consumers, family members, staff, providers, state partners and members of the mental health community – who, for the past seven years, have participated in the planning, design and construction process.

The WRCH is a historic project for DMH and the Commonwealth at large; the development process of this facility has always been focused on ensuring the delivery of a high-quality, recovery-oriented, safe and respectful environment for patients, staff and families. This is also the first time in more than 100 years that the state has built a new psychiatric facility in Massachusetts: a tremendous milestone indeed.                                                         

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We continue to assess DMH’s inpatient system and will focus on a phased approach to opening the new facility. When we reach our target opening date in July 2012, we will have transitioned all who work and reside at the current Worcester State Hospital into the new facility. New DMH Hospital_Architects rendering

The state-of-the-art facility at WRCH requires us to take a measured approach to transitioning patients, families and staff to the new facility. We’ve examined the options that make it clinically and programmatically prudent to offer a phased opening of the new facility: this will allow time for patients, families and staff to adjust and stabilize before transferring additional patients. A phased approach also allows for a corps of trained staff to familiarize themselves with the new, therapeutic environment and physical layout. For overall patient and staff safety, this stability must be achieved before future phases occur. 

Preparing to move into a new hospital is a significant undertaking. It is also a tremendous opportunity to strive for excellence throughout the DMH inpatient system and our entire service delivery in the community. I value this experience and am grateful for DMH’s collective efforts to ensure continuity among inpatient staff statewide.


WRCH 2

Site of new facility in Worcester

The experience, dedication and professionalism of DMH staff are invaluable: patients and families will rely upon these attributes during the transition over the next nine months. It’s an exciting time for DMH and I look forward to sharing future posts on the continued progress of this remarkable milestone in the Commonwealth’s public mental health system. My kudos and thanks to the many individuals involved in this transition and their extraordinary work on behalf of the adults, children adolescents and families we serve every day.

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