Employees at Connecticut's only maximum-security psychiatric hospital have been arrested for multiple instances of abuse against patients. According to ABC News, 31 staff members at the Whiting Forensic Division hospital in Middletown have been suspended and nine were arrested for cruelty and disorderly conduct. Authorities expect more arrests as allegations of abuse and misconduct continue to be called in.
"It's really incomprehensible that this could happen in this day and age," said Sen. Heather Somers. "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."
A list of those arrested so far was reported by The Middletown Press. The suspects are all men (pictured above).
According to a state report, staff members put a diaper on a 62-year-old 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. Other allegations include staff abusing patients, overriding doctors' orders and forging doctors' signatures on documents.
Karen Kangas, who was assigned by a court to serve as one of the abused patient's conservators, said he suffers from multiple mental health issues and has been “traumatized” by the abuse.
This patient's mistreatment sparked the larger investigation into the hospital. Whiting is a psychiatric care hospital run by the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. There are 106 beds for patients in maximum security and 141 beds for those in "enhanced security." The patients include individuals found not guilty of murder and other crimes by reason of insanity. Others were committed voluntarily or involuntarily by civil courts.
This isn't the first time that the hospital has been under legal scrutiny. Staff members have faced allegations that they use restraints on patients too often and forcefully. In 2002, the death of one patient was linked to the improper use of restraints. That patient's family filed a wrongful death suit and received a $2.3 million settlement by the state.
[Photo: Connecticut State Police]