Mental Health Facility Cited For Inadequate Care

A Waterbury group home for people with severe psychiatric disabilities has been cited by the state for failing to provide proper care for two residents with past suicide attempts who injured themselves while in the facility.

Glenlulan, a six-bed residential facility for adults with prolonged mental illness and addiction problems, was fined $2,500 in December by the Department of Public Health (DPH)  for violations found in inspections earlier in the year.  In a consent order, the home’s administrator agreed to improve resident-care oversight, train staff in new procedures and retain a consultant to monitor and improve practices.

The DPH inspections cited two cases in which the facility failed to take adequate steps to prevent residents from harming themselves. In one case, a resident with a history of alcohol abuse, bipolar disorder and other psychiatric problems was rushed to Waterbury Hospital in February with self-inflicted wounds caused by a razor. The resident had been hospitalized for years, beginning at age 12 because of “a suicide attempt or gesture,” the DPH report says. Yet facility staff had failed to check on the resident because of a policy that required staff to “make sure everything is quiet and safe (but) don’t go into resident rooms,” the report says.

A month after the resident returned to Glenlulan from the hospital, she was found bleeding from self-inflicted gashes to the legs that required 65 staples. In the weeks leading up to that incident, the resident had conveyed to staff “thoughts about drinking, cutting his/her legs, and chopping off (a) doll’s head,” but adequate measures to ensure her safety were not taken, according to the report.

In the second case, the facility was cited for failing to properly supervise and care for a resident with psychotic disorder and a history of suicide attempts who was reported to be “withdrawn.” The resident slashed his or her wrist with a knife taken from the kitchen, and also told staff that he or she had been “drinking bug spray.”  The resident’s care plan had “failed to include interventions addressing suicidal thoughts,” the DPH report says.

Glenlulan is run by Central Naugatuck Valley HELP, Inc., which operates several behavioral health and substance abuse programs.

About Lisa Chedekel

Senior writer and co-founder of C-HIT, Lisa Chedekel is an award-winning investigative reporter who wrote for the Hartford Courant for 15 years, covering a wide range of beats, from politics to healthcare. In 1999, she was among a team of reporters awarded the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting. In 2002, she was among a handful of U.S. journalists who visited Saudi Arabia in the year after 9/11 to report on the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. More recently, she co-authored a series on mental health in the military that won a George Polk Award, the Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting, and was a 2007 finalist for the Pulitzer in Investigative Reporting. Before writing for The Courant, she was a staff writer and columnist for the New Haven Register. You can contact Lisa at chedekel at c-hit.org