—Vermont plans to break ground this week on a 25-bed psychiatric hospital in Berlin that will serve as a replacement for a state psychiatric hospital that was closed after sustaining damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. The state has fast-tracked plans to build the $38 million hospital and expects to complete construction by early spring of 2014, said Frank Reed, deputy commissioner of the Vermont Department of Mental Health. The state last week opened the Green Mountain Psychiatric Care Center, a temporary eight-bed mental health facility in Morrisville. The center will remain in use until the new hospital opens, Reed said. “Opening this eight-bed facility and appointing Dr. (Maria) Novas-Schmidt as interim director are critical steps in easing the pressure on Vermont's strained mental health system since Tropical Storm Irene destroyed the state hospital in Waterbury,” Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said in a news release. Vermont State Hospital, a 54-bed psychiatric hospital in Waterbury, was closed in October 2011 after being damaged by flooding during the storm. At that time, state officials said they had established a long-term agreement with Brattleboro (Vt.) Retreat, a mental-health and addiction treatment facility, to provide 14 acute-care beds. The Vermont Department of Mental Health also has an agreement with 134-bed Rutland (Vt.) Regional Medical Center to provide six beds. The new psychiatric hospital will be built adjacent to Central Vermont Medical Center, an 87-bed hospital in Berlin.