Advocates: New Hospital Guidance Doesn't Go Far Enough

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There’s confusion about the guidance the state released Tuesday to make sure some individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities won’t have to go to the hospital alone. 

Advocates say it still gives hospitals the ability to use their discretion and it doesn’t cover everyone with a disability.

"I think these folks want to do the right thing,” Tom Fiorentino, parent and president of the ARC of Connecticut. “They just need to go a little bit further to get to the right thing."

The Department of Development Services crafted the policy with the Department of Public Health and the Connecticut Hospital Association, but it’s limited in who is included. 

The guidance outlined in a letter from DDS Commissioner Jordan Scheff said the Connecticut Hospital Association will “strongly recommend” that individuals served by DDS can have one support person accompany them to the hospital, but only when the caregiver’s physical presence is deemed necessary. Otherwise DDS encourages families to use “virtual communication options.” 

There are about 50,000 individuals with I/DD in Connecticut and the policy would only cover the 17,000 who receive services through DDS. 

Fiorentino doesn’t understand why the guidance from the Department of Developmental Services isn’t mandatory. 

 "The problem with ‘strongly recommended’ is that's not the same as you are directed to, which is what New York has said, what New Jersey has said,” he added. 

Asked about why the guidance was so limited, Gov. Ned Lamont and his Chief of Staff Paul Mounds seemed unaware of the details. 

"As a citizen, as a father I'm just asking the people who are making the decisions to make the decision that takes just a little bit off of my plate,” Fiorentino said. “Take one worry off a plate that's full of worry and concern about my son."

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