A bill that beefs up oversight at the state's maximum security psychiatric hospital is now awaiting the governor's signature.
The bill is a direct result of an NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters investigation that exposed allegations of abuse by staff members at the "Whiting Forensic Division." A little more than a year ago the Troubleshooters broke the story about the repeated abuse of a 59-year-old man who is a longtime patient at Whiting.
This bill sets up a task force that will function as an oversight committee at Whiting. It also outlines that Whiting employees are mandated reporters, and now subject to fines and criminal charges if they fail to report abuse to proper authorities.
The Whiting task force must submit a preliminary report on its findings to the legislature in seven months. The state agency in charge of Whiting says the bill will "work to ensure that patients and staff are safe, that clinical care is appropriate and that the allegations we heard about last spring never occur again."
“This bill is the culmination of the joint efforts of the Governor’s office, the Public Health Committee, DMHAS leadership, the CT Department of Public Health and community stakeholders including those with lived experience. These collaborative efforts have produced legislation that will enhance processes that work to ensure that patients and staff are safe, that clinical care is appropriate and that the allegations we heard about last spring never occur again,” wrote Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, of the Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services in a statement.
Gov. Dannel Malloy is expected to sign the bill.
“This legislation, based on an original proposal from Governor Malloy, implements measures that will result in greater staff accountability and improvement of patient care at Whiting Forensic Hospital and other state-operated behavioral health facilities. It represents important progress, and the Governor has been supportive and proactive with regard to these critical policy changes since February. Barring any unforeseen technical issues with the language, he intends to sign it in coming days,” said Leigh Appleby, Malloy’s press secretary.