The country has temporarily reduced admissions to addiction treatment beds. The union says there are 150 beds and only 21 of them are occupied. The union representing healthcare workers says it’s a matter of life or death.
“There was just no real emergency or urgency to address this and because they are taking their time, you have people in our communities who are suffering,” said Kim Piper, vice president of SEIU 1199.
Piper, who works for the union that represents addiction treatment workers, says the state needs to hire more people.
“There’s just a lack of management’s will to solve this problem,” Piper said.
The problem is that there are not enough workers to care for these addicts.
“They are homeless, they need food, they need their drug of choice. Because they don’t sleep until they get a solution. So let me commit a crime. Try to find a solution,” said Victor Rodriguez, an addiction counselor.
Rodriguez says there are many addicts on the street.
“When people get paid fairly for these very difficult and complicated jobs, those jobs become vacant because people want the jobs, but they want to be treated fairly,” said Sen. Saud Anwar, D-South Windsor.
Anwar, who is also a doctor, says the state needs to increase incentives for workers.
“You need to invest a lot more in this area,” he said.
The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services has 600 vacancies, and as a result, addiction treatment admissions at Connecticut Valley Hospital and Blue Hills Hospital have slowed.
“We need them to hire over 300 people by April to really start reopening some of these services,” Piper said.
“There is a labor shortage, essential labor across the board, including at DMHAS. sense of urgency? Absolutely,” Governor Ned Lamont said. “Can I get 330 by the end of next month? I do not know.”