Gov. Peter Shumlin today announced a managerial mash-up that will see Deputy Secretary of Human Services Secretary Patrick Flood swap positions with Commissioner of Mental Health Christine Oliver.
The two have worked closely together since Tropical Storm Irene, when heavy floods forced the closure of the Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury. Under considerable scrutiny from hospitals, mental-health advocates and the media, the pair has spearheaded the administration's quest to deliver a permanent, albeit controversial, replacement plan for the 54-bed psychiatric facility.
That plan will require an enormous lobbying effort in the Statehouse, a "legislative and strategic challenge for which Patrick Flood is uniquely qualified to address," Shumlin said in an administration press release.
Oliver's "extensive management and legal experience," meanwhile, are needed at an Agency of Human Services "facing a host of unanticipated management challenges due to both Irene and federal budget cuts."
"Christine and Patrick have both done an extraordinary job under difficult conditions over the past year," Shumlin said in a written statement. "As I have worked closely with them in the wake of Irene, it has become clear to me that at this unique moment, Christine's background and talents are better suited to managing the Agency's overall work, while Patrick's legislative and state government experience make him best suited to helping realize my vision for creating a comprehensive, post-Irene mental health system."