Frontline doctors, nurses, mental health workers, social workers and other healthcare workers from Connecticut Valley Hospital, Whiting Forensic Hospital and Albert J. Solnit Children’s Center North and South will block traffic to demand that Governor Ned Lamont immediately fill 345 vacancies. Staffing shortages at these facilities of the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) and the Department of Children and Families (DCF) have reduced essential safety net services and increased incidents of serious injury to staff.
These state facilities in Middletown provide essential lifelines for adults struggling with substance abuse and mental health challenges, and for Connecticut’s at-risk children. Governor Lamont’s failure to hire staff has cut the number of addiction services beds down from 110 to 36 beds. The state’s women-only addiction inpatient unit was also closed due to staff shortages. People suffering from substance abuse and addictions will need to wait between six weeks and several months before receiving services — the difference between life and death for individuals struggling with mental health.
Governor Lamont’s decision not to fill the 345 vacant positions and his administration’s slow hiring rate at these four facilities has left a lot of people in despair — including communities of color devastated by the pandemic — while opioid deaths, mental illness, and child suicides have skyrocketed.
What: Union Healthcare Workers Block Traffic to End Staffing Crisis
When: Wednesday, May 5 at 3:45 PM
Where: Corner of Silver Street and Eastern Drive in Middletown
Who: District 1199 New England state health care workers,
Middletown Mayor Ben Florsheim, Senator Matt Lesser,
Representative Quintin Phipps, Middletown Common Council
Members Gene Nocera and Darnell Ford
“Before the pandemic, the Addiction Services Division at CVH had 110 beds available for individuals seeking recovery from addiction. The state has failed to hire the staff to keep addictions services running. Now the department is only operating 35 beds due to the nurse staffing shortage. Since January 2020, we lost 15 nurses in addiction and only one has been hired. This means that our 30-bed women’s-only unit is completely closed. It is unacceptable that in the middle of a public health emergency when people need addiction and mental health services the state has chosen to let people suffer without treatment by failing to hire enough staff to keep services running.” – Brian Williams, Addictions Counselor, Connecticut Valley Hospital
“Saying that we are exhausted is an understatement. We’re forced to work so many 16-hour shifts that on the rare occasion we only work eight hours it feels like a day off. At Whiting Forensic Hospital, every single weekend 20 out of 25 people on third shift are mandated for another shift. Patient care inevitably suffers in this environment. And yet the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services is not hiring fast enough into open positions.” – Darion Young, Forensic Treatment Specialist, Whiting Forensic Hospital
“It’s imperative that DMHAS maintain adequate staffing levels. As staff on these units, some days we worry that we’ll come home in a wheelchair or an ambulance because these shortages are dangerous both for us as staff and for our patients.”- Stephan Bobb, Mental Health Worker, Connecticut Valley Hospital
“More than ever Connecticut residents need access to an adequate mental health and substance abuse safety net. The DMHAS budget should reflect that safety net with fair staffing levels and adequate funding.” – State Senator Matt Lesser
“DMHAS must hire enough staff to maintain addiction services for all people across Connecticut. Communities of color who have been devastated by the pandemic. In the wealthiest state in the country, it is unacceptable for the Lamont administration not to hire critical services that save people’s lives.” – State Representative Quintin Phipps
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