The systematic mistreatment of a patient at Connecticut's maximum security forensic hospital has sparked outrage and calls for major changes at the facility.
The months-long abuse of a 62-year-old patient at Whiting Forensic Division at Connecticut Valley Hospital in Middletown was brought to light by a whistleblower earlier this year.
Videotapes showed mental health workers systematically mistreating the patient. According to a report by the Department of Public Health, workers were not only physically abusive, they regularly taunted and humiliated the patient.
“You could have stayed away from this guy,” said Kovner, “He's in his 60s, he’s physically compromised, he's mentally compromised. He used to be more difficult than he is now. They could have just stayed away from him.”
An ongoing state police investigation of the incident has led to nine arrests so far on cruelty charges.
Dr. Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, commissioner of the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services which oversees the facility said her department is dedicated to making sure this level of abuse never happens again, starting with regular reviews of all videotaped surveillance.
She said she was horrified and angry when she learned about the incident.
“I viewed the tape and it was disturbing,” said Delphin-Rittmon. “An individual entrusted in our care was mistreated, and this is something that we know is not characteristic of the care we provide.”
But Republican state Senator Heather Somers said the incident clearly is characteristic of the care at Whiting.
“We had 31 people put on suspension, and we had nine state employees who are charged with caring for those who can't care for themselves abuse patients or clients,” said Somers, who co-chairs the legislature's Public Health Committee.
Somers is calling on her committee to hold public hearings at the Capitol to find out more about why the abuse happened, and what DMHAS is doing to prevent another such incident in the future.