Former psychiatric chair of Nuvance hospital comes out against plans to close mental health unit

Richard Maiberger, MD, the former psychiatric chair at Norwalk (Conn.) Hospital, spoke out against the planned closure of the hospitals' inpatient mental health services at a Dec. 14 meeting of the state Office of Health Strategy, SFGate reported Dec. 17.

The hospital's current Chair of Psychiatry Charles Herrick, MD, said the unit has been underperforming for years and that the hospital will boost its outpatient services, along with referring patients to Danbury (Conn.) hospital. 

Dr. Maiberger, who served as chair at Norwalk from 2003 to 2007, contends that referring patients out to Danbury will lead to worse care.

"Any one of them I took care of over years, they'd stay in the local community. They'd be much better off there instead of going up to Danbury where it's outside of the community," Dr. Maiberger said. 

"When I was working, we would make decisions about whether someone needed to be admitted. A lot of the times there was no problem with that, they were suffering acute psychosis, or there were a lot of times patients were noncompliant in adhering to treatment. They have relapses and have to be restarted on medication. Sometimes they can't take care of themselves, and they need the services."

Both hospitals are part of Danbury-based Nuvance Health. The closure of inpatient mental health facilities comes as Norwalk Hospital plans for a $220 million renovation and expansion project. 

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