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Sheriff’s department ends 24/7 security at Vermont hospital

July 20, 2021 GMT

ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. (AP) — Due to a staffing shortage, the Caledonia County Sheriff’s Department can no longer provide around-the-clock security at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital.

Sheriff Dean Shatney said that starting Monday, coverage at the hospital would be “random.”

The department roster has fallen from 23 people before the coronavirus pandemic to 11 people, the Caledonian-Record reported.

“We’re stretched pretty thin right now,” Shatney said. “We’ve got to think outside the box, being short-handed like this, until we can get staffed backed up.”

The sheriff’s department has provided 24/7 security at the hospital since 2012.

The hospital’s CEO, Shawn Tester, said it’s unfortunate that the department cannot maintain a consistent presence and the hospital and he hopes more deputies can be hired to maintain a full-time presence at the hospital.

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“The hospital has become the vector for those experiencing mental health crisis,” Tester said. “There’s not enough (psychiatric) beds in the state. It’s our duty and responsibility to care for those patients and sometimes they can be dangerous.”

He added that he is investigating solutions such as hiring a private security company.