Changes are being made at Connecticut’s maximum security mental hospital in the wake of an NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters exclusive investigation about the alleged abuse of one of their patients, Bill Shehadi.
During a Psychiatric Security Review Board (PRSB) hearing on Friday, Shehadi’s treatment team at the Whiting Forensic Division spoke publicly about how the alleged abuse impacted him and what steps the hospital has taken to improve his safety and health.
Every two years, the PRSB reviews the cases of patients who plead not guilty by reason of insanity in criminal court and are committed to Whiting.
Shehadi was allegedly abused by staff employees in February and March of 2017. According to authorities, much of it was caught on surveillance video. This discovery resulted in the arrest of ten employees, and dozens of others being suspended or terminated.
“I think everybody would agree that Mr. Shehadi is a glaring example of gross, of a gross, a gross institutional failure,” Shehadi’s attorney told the PSRB.
The PRSB wanted to know how Shehadi has been doing since the alleged abuse was discovered.
“Overall he appears to be developing trust with his treatment team, and overall he has more periods where he feels, and appears more calm and happy,” said Whiting social worker Rebecca Ewald.
The staff at Whiting moved Shehadi, a patient it says has a high degree of special needs, to a specially designed room with a table, a relaxation chair, personal phone, and 24/7 video monitoring.
“Since he was moved to our unit in March of last year, it’s obviously a different environment, he’s not subjected to the abuse that was happening,” said Shehadi psychiatrist Dr. Shana Berger.
On Friday, the hospital’s new director began his tenure at Whiting. He will be responsible for implementing the wide-ranging reforms ordered by the state. One change is the possibility of moving Shehadi out of Whiting altogether, to get him out of a building where he allegedly experienced severe trauma. His attorney is also pressing for more detail in the semi-annual reports Whiting prepares on Shehadi.