Gov. DannelP. Malloy on Tuesday signed an executive order to separate the Whiting Forensic Division from the Connecticut Valley Hospital, a move he said would allow the state to more effectively address ongoing abuse of patients by staff.
The new hospital, Whiting Forensic Hospital, will remain under the jurisdiction of the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, but will have its own leadership team, policies, and guidelines.
“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 in a statement.
Whiting, located in Middletown, is the state’s only maximum-security psychiatric hospital. It has been a source of controversy as accusations of abuse by staff members have come to light. The legislature convened a public hearing on the accusations in November.
Among the staff accused was forensic nurse Mark Cusson, 49, of 353 Harness Drive, Southington. Cusson was charged by warrant Sept. 5 with eight counts each of cruelty to persons and disorderly conduct.
Whiting’s patients include people found not guilty of murder and other crimes by reason of insanity and other people committed voluntarily or involuntarily by civil courts.
Connecticut Valley Hospital, also located in Middletown, treats people with a variety of mental illnesses.
Malloy said the new forensic hospital will consolidate space in both the Whiting Maximum Security and Dutcher Enhanced Security buildings, and will have a total of 229 beds.
DMHAS Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon agreed with Malloy that separating Whiting from CVH to create two smaller, specialized hospitals “will enhance care for the people we serve. Supporting recovery in a safe caring environment will always be the department’s priority.”
Michael Norko, a Middletown psychiatrist, will continue to serve as director of the facility while DMHAS conducts a national search for a CEO.