Photos From Last Night’s “Workplace Safety & Mental Illness” Hearing

February 8, 2017

February 8, 2017


VSEA DOC member Steffen Flibotte delivered powerful testimony about the many issues frontline COs encounter when asked to supervise an inmate with severe mental illness. He reminded that these workers have enough on their plates with just supervising the general population. View more photos on VSEA’s Facebook page here.

Dozens of state employees, health care professionals, mental health care professionals, community-based care providers and others braved a snowstorm to come to the State House last night to testify in support of lawmakers strengthening protections for frontline workers who must provide care/oversight to individuals experiencing acute mental-health crises.

In addition to suffering violent attacks and outbursts by a resident, patient, or inmate–sometimes with injury to a worker(s)–VSEA members from the Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital and Corrections spoke about a lack of staffing, a lack of training, a lack of upper-management accountability and, in all honesty, a lack of direction.

The VSEA members’ observations and frustrations were echoed by registered nurses, ER doctors and other hospital frontline workers who came out in force to demand some action by lawmakers NOW!

Here are some of the phrases people testifying used to describe Vermont’s present-day mental-health system:

  • A digrace
  • A shambles
  • A mere shell of what it once was
  • No direction, flailing
  • First to one of the worst

The list went on. At the end of the night, lawmakers in the room assured those testifying that their voices and concerns had been heard and that their testimony mirrored what they were hearing in their committee rooms. No formal action was announced but they did say it was something that must be addressed. Hopefully, that means sooner, rather than later, for the patients/residents/inmates and the frontline workers.

VSEA thanks all its members who came out last night!

> View more photos on VSEA’s Facebook page here.

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