Sen. Heather Somers Honored for CT Mental Health Policy Advocacy

October 18, 2022

Sen. Heather Somers Honored for CT Mental Health Policy Advocacy

Keep The Promise Coalition has recognized Sen. Heather Somers for her legislative advocacy on issues affecting patients in Whiting Forensic Hospital.

“Thank you for all your work and your strong voice on this issue,” Keep The Promise Coalition wrote to Somers. The coalition is dedicated to ensuring that a comprehensive, community mental health system is created and sustained in Connecticut.

“I appreciate this recognition from Keep The Promise Coalition and continue to push for reform and accountability at Whiting Forensic Hospital,” said Somers, who serves as Ranking Senator on the legislature’s Public Health Committee. “For several years, I have worked to pass reforms to address patient abuse at Whiting, and that work continues.”

Keep The Promise Coalition recognized Somers for her leadership on Senate Bill 450.

The bipartisan legislation, which Somers co-sponsored:

  • changed the definition of abuse of patients to include harassment and bullying, rather than just physical abuse
  • empowered patients to know their voices can be heard
  • reestablished Whiting Forensic Hospital’s 11-member advisory board as an oversight board and expanded the board’s duties
  • included funding to remodel the hospital
  • required the board to make recommendations to the hospital and the state on necessary actions to improve staff work, hospital conditions, or patient or staff treatment needed to address complaints or staff concerns

“There’s still a long way to go, but we continue to work in bipartisan fashion to change Whiting from an institution that was allowed to slide into the shadows of secrecy and elevate it to a hospital that is transparent and treats all patients with dignity, safety and respect,” said Somers. “Our common goal continues to be providing the residents of Connecticut with better patient protections while offering employees at institutions like Whiting a culture that fosters a professional workplace environment that is focused, like a laser, on providing quality patient care.”

Somers represents Groton, Stonington, Sterling, Griswold, North Stonington, Plainfield, Preston and Voluntown.

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