The Whiting Forensic Division will be separated from Connecticut Valley Hospital and will become Whiting Forensic Hospital, following an executive order by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy that’s meant to allow the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to improve the quality of care at the facility.
The order, signed Dec. 29, was announced by the governor’s office Tuesday afternoon and goes into “effect immediately,” although the full transition is expected to be completed by the end of January. Whiting, which is located in Middletown, is the only maximum security psychiatric hospital in the state.
The order creates “a distinct hospital,” and under a new structure, will allow the DMHAS, “to focus more directly on the changes needed to continue to improve the quality of care at the facility,” a news release from the governor’s office said.
The release said that under the order, beds at the Whiting Maximum Security building will be consolidated with those at the Dutcher Enhanced Security building, creating a 229-bed forensic hospital.
The executive order comes months after state police arrested 10 staff members and a total of 37 were suspended following a patient abuse case that DMHAS Commissioner Miriam Deplhin-Rittmon called “disturbing and cause for great concern” last May. More recently, four staff members were suspended in a case of alleged patient abuse.
The new Whiting Forensic Hospital will have a different leadership team with “its own governance and policies, procedures and personnel and the Chief Executive Officer will report directly to the Commissioner of DMHAS.”
“Having these two facilities as distinct entities governed by their own policies, procedures, and staff will ensure that we can focus more directly on the changes needed to continue to improve the quality of care at Whiting,” Malloy said.
The new hospital will be structured to meet Connecticut guidelines for similarly licensed facilities. It will continue to be led by Dr. Michael Norko as DMHAS conducts a national search for a permanent CEO of the hospital, the news release said.
“Creating two smaller specialized hospitals out of the larger Connecticut Valley Hospital will enhance care for the people we serve,” Delphin-Rittmon said. “Supporting recovery in a safe, caring environment will always be the department’s priority.”