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State healthcare workers demand more staffing to help them and patients at risk

According to the workers, the shortage has had consequences. They say the number of addiction services beds has been cut down from 110 to 36.

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. —  Between Connecticut Valley Hospital, Whiting Forensic Hospital, and the Solnit Children's Center North and South there are currently more than 300 job vacancies. Workers who are members of SEIU 1199 are calling it a "staffing crisis." 

"You don't have enough people on the shift to be able to complete all of the tasks you need to complete," said Darnell Ford, lead children's supervisor, at the Albert J. Solnit Children's Center.

According to the workers, the shortage has had consequences. They say the number of addiction services beds has been cut down from 110 to 36. 

"In the course of the life of somebody who is an addict there are a few times where maybe they may be willing to come into treatment so when somebody calls and says, 'I need help' and we have to say to them, I'm sorry we don't have a bed you have to wait," said Brian Williams, an addiction counselor at Connecticut Valley Hospital.

"It doesn't feel good because you're wondering, are they alive? Are they somewhere safe? Did they get somewhere safe?" said Michele Daniels, a mental health assistant at Connecticut Valley Hospital.

Daniels says they work to refer people in need to other facilities that do have beds available, and people can check availability on the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services' website, here.

In hopes of getting the governor's attention, workers blocked traffic Wednesday afternoon outside of Connecticut Valley Hospital, demanding vacant positions be filled.

Max Reiss, the governor's communications director responded in a statement that reads: 

"Gov. Lamont has followed up his words of support with action when it comes to funding these programs. He did it in his state budget, and he proposed even more funding for these programs in his Connecticut Recovery Act Proposal."

The Department of Children and Families says it will be filling more than a dozen vacant positions at Solnit Children's Center South by the end of the week.

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