Legislators, Recovery For All Connecticut coalition, frontline doctors, nurses, mental health staff, social workers, and other state healthcare workers will rally alongside service recipients and community allies Monday to demand that the state fills nearly 1,500 healthcare vacancies in critical areas of our public safety net.
Development and mental health services from the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), Department Developmental Services (DDS), Department of Children and Families (DCF), Department of Corrections (DOC), and other state agencies have suffered an accelerated reduction in services during the pandemic.
DMHAS, DOC and DDS are presenting alarming vacancy rates at 33%, 19% and 18% respectively. In Middletown, the number of addiction services beds went down from 110 to 36 beds.
When: Monday, May 24 at 3:30 PM
Where: Legislative Office Building 300 Capitol Ave, Hartford
Who: District 1199 New England state healthcare workers, union leaders, Sen. Saud Anwar, Rep. Robyn Porter, Sen. Matt Lesser, Sen. Marilyn Moore, Rep. Peter Tercyak, Rep. Jane Garibay, Rep. Tom Arnone and the Recovery For All Coalition.
“Over the last few decades Connecticut has consistently cut, underfunded, and privatized essential state healthcare services. The crisis over the last year has certainly crystallized the consequences of these harmful decisions in ways that can no longer be denied. The suffering that working people across the state, especially working people of color, have experienced over the last year have exposed the detriment of these damaging decisions, and that simply cannot be ignored. It’s time for us to embrace a new and bold path that fully funds essential state healthcare services, expands staffing ratios, and says no to privatization. This is the only way to ensure that we meet the urgent needs of those who continue to selflessly position themselves on the frontline of this life altering pandemic while many of us have been able to remain at home safe and sound.”
Rep. Robyn Porter
Hamden, New Haven
“After our rally to call attention to the Middletown staffing crisis a few weeks ago, DCF management hired 20 temporary two-month emergency hires. With the new temporary staff, mandations immediately went down from 60 mandations over Mother’s Day weekend to six mandations the following weekend. Alleviating some of the burden of constant mandation allows us to provide better care to our kids. Yet we still have at-risk children in dire need of services and stability waiting to receive services because we still don’t have enough staff to provide care. Now we need the state to fill the rest of the 50-plus vacancies across our agency to serve children and families in need.”
Lead Children Services Worker
Solnit South Children’s Psychiatric Center
22 years of state service
“There is a severe shortage of doctors and supporting staff impacting patient care. There are currently 5 vacancies of doctors at Greater Bridgeport Community Mental Health Center. The state should be doing everything within its powers to address this situation to enhance the continuity of care as a priority as opposed to privatization which diminishes the values state workers embrace.
Dr. Tasneem Khan
20 years of state service
“Before the pandemic, the Addiction Services Division at CVH had 110 beds available for individuals seeking recovery from addiction. But the state has failed to hire the staff to keep addictions services running. Now the department is only operating 36 beds due to the nurse staffing shortage.
“Our women’s only unit is now closed. The women are not getting the individual treatment that they deserve. The program is nowhere near what it used to be, and the rules have changed. The program is co-ed, which means the clients are more challenged to focus on their program. Women come to us with more trauma and abuse histories, and when they come into a co-ed program, they don’t feel as comfortable, so they hold back. To bring this unique program back, we need more staff to help facilitate the program.
“Addicts are dying because of lack of services. We need to expand Addiction Services. We need to see the level of urgency as in the Department of Children and Families. ”
Mental Health Assistant 1
15 years of state service
“There is a continuous and great need for addiction services as exemplified by the high number of 211 calls for addiction services and for crisis intervention and suicide. Unmet needs means lives are in danger. As a community, we should strive to meet the addictions and mental health needs of affected individuals in our state. CVH administrators have indicated their intent to extend the number of beds in addiction services, including detox beds where we can help patients with addiction, psychiatric illnesses and multiple medical comorbidities. People struggling with addiction and mental health issues need urgent action from the state’s leadership. We are in urgent need to hire enough staff that will allow us to safely reopen the beds and provide treatment at the highest level of care that includes medically managed detox and rehab services.”
Dr. Anca Pralea
Ambulatory Care Physician
13 years of state service
“It took years and then when we finally did get monitored residential housing for our son at Hope House it was very helpful and he did well. He was only there two years and then was pushed out because he was 26 and had to get his own apartment. Since then, he declined and did very poorly with self-care. More housing is necessary. Availability of these services should be based on someone’s needs and meeting individuals where they are developmentally — not just based on age.”
Mother of a son with developmental needs
“It is important to fund and expand public sector health services because the private care sector is unable to meet the growing need for mental health services. Some private care sector agencies are completely at capacity. When private agencies are unable to meet the needs for an individual’s care they’ll resort back to state services to continue caring for our most vulnerable populations. I’ve seen clients get dropped off at our doors because the private sector agency is at a breaking point and then even discharges them, leaving the public sector to take them in. It is our obligation as a state to provide the care these individuals deserve.”
South West Mental Health Authority
10 years of state service
“One year into the pandemic, we are getting calls every day from people in emotional distress, especially mothers who can’t pay rent or put food on the table, and domestic violence survivors. When I call the domestic violence hotline, it takes them weeks, sometimes months, to provide a psychologist or social worker. There aren’t many options available for people who are uninsured and can’t pay. State services are the final hope for many of ULA’s members. It’s very important to fully fund these services”.
Unidad Latina en Acción
Media Contact: Pedro Zayas, firstname.lastname@example.org, 860-830-2478 District 1199, SEIU, New England Health Care Employees Union