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Three more Whiting employees — in addition to the 31 suspended and nine arrested in the spring and summer for patient abuse — have been transferred from their jobs and are under internal investigation for an alleged assault of the same patient in a Whiting bathroom within the last 30 days, a source inside the maximum-security psychiatric hospital said. This comes months after surveillance video tape captured extended abuse of that 62-year-old patient, and led to the suspensions beginning in March and the arrests earlier this month.
Officials with the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services did not comment directly on the new allegations.
Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon said in a statement that the agency “is committed to being transparent regarding alleged patient abuse at Whiting Forensic Division while still maintaining the integrity of ongoing investigations.
“As we have discussed DMHAS takes violations of work rules very seriously and investigates them fully.”
The department oversees Connecticut Valley Hospital in Middletown, which includes Whiting.
The patient’s co-conservator told The Courant on Thursday that she’d recently received a call from the Whiting administration that had unnerved her.
Karen Kangas said she was told that a Whiting nurse had received a call on her cellphone advising her that the patient might be the victim of further abuse and to check the bathrooms.
Kangas said Whiting officials confirmed to her on Thursday that the workers had been shifted from their jobs and were going through “due process” as the officials assessed the allegations.
“My first thought was, ‘This can’t possibly be happening now, after all this,’’’ said Kangas, a mental health advocate and a former official with DMHAS.
“It’s shocking, and it makes me question whether they are taking this seriously. I have to wonder if [the patient] is safe,” Kangas said.
It could not be determined if mental health officials have notified state police investigators about the most recent allegations. Detectives have charged nine of the suspended Whiting workers with cruelty to persons, a felony.
No charges have been filed against the three additional workers.
Sen. Heather Somers of Groton, the Republican co-chairwoman of the public-health committee, has called for a hearing on the abuse at Whiting, as well as on what she sees as a leadership vacuum and out-of-control costs, including large amounts of overtime for treatment workers.
The daily cost of care for each patient at Whiting is $1,500, or $547,500 per patient annually.
Treatment workers and nurses routinely double their salaries in overtime — a situation that state auditors said raises both safety and financial concerns. The 31 suspended workers collectively earned several hundred thousand dollars in overtime alone in the last fiscal year.
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3 Whiting Workers Investigated Over Allegations Of New Assault On Abused Patient