MIDDLETOWN \u2014 After federal authorities conducted what one lawmaker termed a \u201cscathing assessment\u201d of Connecticut Valley Hospital policies and conditions a decade ago, the mother of a woman in state care for seven years after that report testified Monday she witnessed staff openly laughing about patient hangings. The Legislature\u2019s Public Health Committee hearing at the state Capitol in Hartford followed the arrests of 10 employees of the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services who work for CVH\u2019s Whiting Forensic division in Middletown, where those found incompetent to stand trial are held. The paid suspension of 31 Whiting Forensic employees, on leave for alleged policy violations or accusations of criminal acts, and the arrests of 10 staff members who have been charged with multiple instances of cruelty to persons and disorderly conduct triggered the hearings. Those charges stem from arrest warrants that detail a 24-day period \u2014 Feb. 27 to March 22 \u2014 during which authorities allege the brother of Al Shehadi, who came forward to testify Monday, suffered a sustained pattern of attacks and provocations. All the allegations involve that single patient who is still confined to Whiting. Martha Healy told legislators it was the culture of the unit her daughter, Karen, was in that was most disturbing. \u201cIt was a joke for several weeks,\u201d Healy said. \u201cStaff would yell out to one another, \u2018What are you doing today?\u2019 \u201c\u2018Just hanging around, just hanging around,\u2019\u201d she recalled hearing employees say. \u201cAs a visual, I still think of that with horror.\u201d Her daughter, who was hospitalized at CVH from 2007 to 2014, but not on the Whiting Forensic ward, said she witnessed staff putting their hands on clients, causing bruises, as well as making fun of them. She said employees conveyed to her that she\u2019d never leave their care. \u201cThere were some staff who did believe in me, and it was their efforts and support, as well as my family and doctors,\u201d that ushered her toward recovery after suffering reactions from medications and undergoing hip surgery at CVH, Karen Healy said. State Sen. George Logan, R-Ansonia, referenced what he called a \u201cscathing assessment\u201d conducted a decade ago by the U.S. Department of Justice prompted by patient suicides that determined \u201cplans and procedures were supposed to be in place but were not working.\u201d \u201cWe\u2019ve rectified and appropriately addressed all of the areas that were identified in that report and risk management findings,\u201d Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, commissioner of the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, told Logan. \u201cPeople should not be judged because they have long-term psychiatric and physical illnesses,\u201d Karen Healy said. \u201cEveryone deserves the chance to be treated well and have a normal life as possible.\u201d \u201cThe report confirmed CVH has an appropriate system for responding to and tracking allegations of staff abuse or neglect of patients but CVH lacks an adequate system for collecting, organizing and tracking patient injuries and incidents,\u201d Logan said, reading from the DOJ report. \u201cThis is similar to having a video camera, but not having anyone look at the video camera on a regular basis,\u201d Logan told Delphin-Rittmon. Monday\u2019s public hearing testimony continued until at least 7 p.m., said state Rep. Christie Carpino, R-Cromwell. \u201cI\u2019m disappointed with DMHAS\u2019 testimony. I asked for multiple items almost a month ago in writing from the commissioner in order to have an intelligent conversation, looking at policies, procedures to make sure this never happens again,\u201d she said. It\u2019s a delay that is making her suspicious, Christie said. Delphin-Rittmon told Carpino her letter was received after the one sent by state Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton. \u201cThe content requested \u2014 and I\u2019m not making excuses here, I\u2019m just trying to be frank \u2014 it\u2019s probably over 5,000 to 8,000 pages of content,\u201d Delphin-Rittmon said. \u201cWe have a duty, we have to go through them to make sure everything is redacted. I think that may even be a low estimate.\u201d Carpino told her she\u2019s heard from a number of CVH retirees about a \u201ctoxic environment on campus\u201d that caused them to fear for their safety and they were forced to omit facts from patient records or change records. \u201cAnd I hope that is not true,\u201d Carpino said to Delphin-Rittmon, who told her she\u2019s encouraging staff to come forward. \u201cThere\u2019s multiple avenues to do that. They can talk to supervisor or client rights officer or HR. They can be assured that we\u2019re taking this seriously,\u201d Delphin-Rittmon said, adding that the administration \u201chas increased the real-time monitoring of video surveillance and retrained and re-educated staff on reporting mechanisms.\u201d Calling it a \u201ctoxic culture\u201d on the CVH campus, Christie said, \u201cThese people deserve to be treated with respect. I\u2019m horrified with the state that this is the way they treat people.\u201d Many DMHAS workers do the right thing, Christie said. \u201cI think they care about the patients but they\u2019ve seen the abuse and mismanagement and they\u2019re afraid.\u201d Dr. Michael Norko, acting director of the Whiting Forensic division, said the hospital collects data on patient incidents, which is then presented to management in quarterly reports. \u201cAnything on patient injuries, patient assaults, patient-on-patient assaults, patient-on-staff assaults,\u201d he said is among the information. \u201cThere are quality improvement officers responsible for doing that and the results of those reports are discussed by the hospital\u2019s governing body and also with the advisory boards for both the Whiting Forensic division and for CVH in general,\u201d Norko said. \u201cThe patients who were abused obviously need to be attended to, but also, we have to remember the good people that work there have to deal with the grief that this tragedy has brought about,\u201d said Jim P. Murphy, who testified during the hearings. \u201cYou can\u2019t take a big brush and say all Whiting is bad because it\u2019s not. You had a cavity down there in the tooth,\u201d said the advanced practice nurse, who specializes in psychiatry. \u201cThe cavity has to be drilled. It has to be cleaned and we have to restore some reasonable order down there,\u201d Murphy said. Murphy said he believes there must be a distinction as to what unit is responsible for the alleged maltreatment. \u201cThe proposals that were made (by DMHAS staff) were insufficient, and a truly independent entity, preferably a nurse, (should conduct an audit) considering that the things that occurred were under the purview of the nursing department. That fact was greatly overlooked and understated,\u201d he said. DMHAS has set up an abuse hotline at 877-277-9471.