A Connecticut legislator’s assessment of his state’s failures hits close to home in Virginia.
Paul Gionfriddo is a former Connecticut legislator, but his story has a poignantly familiar plot here in Virginia. He helped steer his state to downsize mental hospitals in the 1980s while promising to invest in community-based services. But promises half-kept are promises broken, he acknowledged in an article in the journal Health Affairs, excerpted in The Washington Post last week.
Connecticut’s reforms never received the necessary funding to make the transition away from institutional care. The state failed to coordinate disjointed efforts by schools, private hospitals, public mental health agencies, local social services departments and the courts. Men and women walked out of public hospitals and into jail cells or wandered the streets. One of them was Gionfriddo’s son, Tim, who has schizophrenia and is homeless.