The Latest: Man says brother’s abuse is ‘hard to imagine’

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP/WTNH) — The Latest on a public hearing about abuse at Connecticut’s maximum-security hospital (all times local):

7:30 p.m.

State Senator Heather Somers (R-Groton) released a statement following the hearing regarding the alleged patient abuse at the Whiting Forensic Institute Division of the Connecticut Valley Hospital, saying:

I believe today’s public hearing was a highly productive first step and brought to light many ways in which we can deliver better care for patients here in Connecticut,” said Sen. Somers. “While I am encouraged to hear that DMHAS is working to improve the overall culture and system oversight at Whiting, I am still not convinced that these steps are enough to address this systematic and egregious breakdown. It will take an enormous amount of corrective measures and evidence of these measures for my confidence in their managing capabilities to be restored; in this sentiment I know I am not alone.

“Today was an important step forward in getting to the bottom of this systematic breakdown in leadership and management of an institution that is meant to provide care to patients in an effort to rehabilitate them,” said Sen. Somers. “Moving forward, I think the state must also be acutely aware of the role that top management and unions play in making employees feel comfortable coming forward, and in the ability of a hospital administration to effectively address instances of patient abuse. I believe DPH will be a vital component and partner in addressing the many concerning issues facing Whiting and CVH Hospital as a whole.”

“While this was an important day, it is only the first step in many that are needed to right this wrong,” said Sen. Somers. “I will continue to work with my fellow Public Health Committee members to evaluate what we have heard today and plan the next steps that must be taken during the upcoming legislative session.”


3:35 p.m.

A brother of the patient allegedly abused at Connecticut’s only maximum security psychiatric prison is coming forward publicly for the first time, urging legislators to continue investigating what happened at the state-run Middletown facility.

Al Shehadi told members of the General Assembly’s Public Health Committee on Monday that the abuse his brother has suffered “is hard to imagine.” He describes video of workers flipping Bill Shehadi off a bed, pouring liquid over his head and mopping his head with a floor mop. Over 24 days, Al Shehadi says there were roughly 50 incidents of abuse.

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Al Shehadi says he felt the need to let the public know his brother’s name and his story.

Bill Shehadi, who suffers from severe psychological problems, killed their father more than 20 years ago.


11:30 a.m.

State officials are expressing surprise at the extent of alleged abuse that took place at Connecticut’s only maximum-security psychiatric hospital.

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Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Commissioner Miriam Dephin-Rittmon told state lawmakers Monday that top officials “never had information that would suggest a pattern this significant.”

Thirty-seven employees at Whiting Forensic Division of the Connecticut Valley Hospital in Middletown have been implicated in the alleged abuse of a patient. Seven have been fired and 10 have been arrested.

Dephin-Rittmon says fear and intimidation helped to cover up the alleged abuse, which she says “has sickened me and haunted me” ever since she saw the video evidence.

She says her agency is “working very hard to understand how this could happen,” noting it’s “not reflective of our whole system.”