HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Disability rights advocates contend Connecticut officials haven’t done enough to ensure people with intellectual disabilities, including those who may need help due to communication barriers or altered mental status, are able to bring one support person with them if they need hospital care during the coronavirus pandemic.
While the Department of Developmental Services issued a letter on Tuesday asking hospitals to allow the support people to accompany the patient, advocates argue it does not require hospitals to do anything, calling it an “inadequate half-step in the right direction.” They also said the letter, which was developed with the Department of Public Health and the Connecticut Hospital Association, doesn’t help people not served by DDS who cognitive, behavioral or communication disabilities.
In most cases, visitors are currently barred from hospitals in Connecticut because of the pandemic.
In a written statement, the group Disability Rights Connecticut said the letter “guarantees no real protection” because DDS and the hospital association have no authority over the hospitals. The advocates are demanding the state’s public health commissioner take action considering her agency oversees hospitals.
Asked about the situation on Tuesday, Paul Mounds, the governor’s chief of staff, noted that DDS commissioner has been “working vigorously on this issue with extreme compassion.” It was unclear whether the administration planned to apply the guidelines in the letter to hospitals to non-DDS clients.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness.
In other coronavirus-related developments around Connecticut:
THIRD PRISONER DIES
The Department of Correction announced Wednesday that a third inmate has died due to complications related to COVID-19. The agency said the unnamed 74-year-old offender died Tuesday. The man was last housed at Osborne Correctional Institution in Somers and had been receiving medical treatment at the UConn Health Center in Farmington since April 19.
The inmate had been in the state’s correctional system since 1970 serving a life sentence for murder.