Abuse allegations, arrests mount at state mental hospital

At Connecticut’s only maximum-security psychiatric hospital, staff members put a diaper on a patient’s head, threw food at him, poured water over him, put salt in his coffee, kicked him and placed a mop on his head after cleaning a floor, according to a state report.

Thirty-one staff members at the Whiting Forensic Division hospital in Middletown have been suspended, and nine have been arrested. More arrests are expected, police say, and calls are pouring in with more allegations of misconduct and abuse, according to a state lawmaker who is calling for legislative hearings.

Current and former staff members, as well as patients’ relatives, are alleging abuse of other patients and staff wrongdoing, she said.

“It’s really incomprehensible that this could happen in this day and age,” said Sen. Heather Somers, a Republican from Groton. “It’s like something out of a Stephen King novel. I think it’s very important that we, as legislators, get to the bottom of this. If you are put in the state’s care, you should be cared for. You shouldn’t be tormented.”

Somers did not disclose the names of the people who have called her, but she did say some of their allegations include staff abusing patients, overriding of doctors’ orders and forgery of doctors’ signatures on documents.

Whiting is part of Connecticut Valley Hospital, a psychiatric care complex run by the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. The division includes 106 beds for patients in maximum security and another 141 beds for those in “enhanced security.” The patients include people found not guilty of murder and other crimes by reason of insanity, and others committed voluntarily or involuntarily by civil courts.

Nine staff members were arrested and charged this month with cruelty to persons and disorderly conduct.

The arrests were in connection with a 62-year-old male patient found in a report by the state Department of Public Health to have been kicked, jabbed, poked and taunted by…

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