Plan to move psychiatric patients, including killers, faces criticism

    The Howard Complex in Cranston, Rhode Island (WJAR)

    A Rhode Island lawmaker is criticizing plans to move dozens of psychiatric patients, including killers, to a new location in Cranston.

    The state plans to move the patients out of two hospitals at the Howard Complex into another building in the complex.

    The Benton building, which had been a juvenile lock-up for the Rhode Island Training School, is now being renovated to become a hospital.

    Rep. Robert Lancia of Cranston is concerned about security.

    “My concern is that they’re moving them closer to Chapel View and to Garden City,” Lancia told NBC 10 News. “It’s just the state doing something and no notification to the general public, the people that are living there.”

    The move was first made public in November and state officials tell NBC10 lawmakers and stakeholders were notified.

    DCYF moved Training School operations out of the Benton building last year after a melee in July that sent staff and residents to the hospital.

    One of the buildings psychiatric patients will be coming from was built in the 1930s and has long been scheduled for demolition, said Carole Cornelison from the state Department of Administration.

    “I can say with a lot of surety that this facility, after the retrofitting, will be much more secure and will offer much better opportunities for patient care,” Cornelison told NBC 10.

    The $7 million renovation includes security upgrades. The original cost estimate was $2 million.

    The plan to move the patients came after notification that the state’s mental health hospital system was in danger of losing accreditation and federal funding.

    “I would say we actually did feel some amount of pressure to make changes as efficiently and as quickly as possible,” Cornelison said.

    State officials argue the cost is significantly lower than building a new hospital.

    The move should be complete in July.

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