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Being monitored at work. In some buildings, the mentally disabled were let to huddle in rooms, moaning, fidgeting, meandering, all with little care or resources. Many went naked for lack of clothing and supervision. Others sat drenched in their urine and feces, and some smeared them on the walls and on their clothes, with no available garments to replace them.
Workplace trends of 2016 report
Sexual and physical abuse at the hands of fellow patients and employees was common, as was disease. By , Willowbrook, designed with a capacity for 4, patients, reached its peak of 6, The first the American public heard of the horrors of Willowbrook was from a speech made by a promising young politician. Yet this alarm went unheeded for seven years, that is, until two people, print journalist Jane Kurtin and an ambitious year-old local news reporter named Geraldo Rivera, decided to cover the story.
Tipped off and given a key by a disgruntled and soon-to-be dismissed Willowbrook employee, Rivera snuck into Building Six with a cameraman. They acquired quick evidence of an overpopulated and squalid facility, at the time filled with 5, patients. Viewers saw scores of mentally disabled patients huddled in anxious aimlessness. With exceptions in the warmer months, they were not allowed outside. Middle-aged patients slept on seats. Others crouched and rocked back and forth on the floor.
Some child patients went without clothes. Such neglect was especially significant in light of a patient population in which 60 percent were not toilet-trained and 64 percent were incapable of feeding themselves.
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As a feature of the times, all who ended up in Willowbrook were treated more or less the same, despite differences in needs and the common reality of early childhood misdiagnosis. There was a lot of sexual abuse going on from staff to residents, also. Progress came slowly, though for long it appeared not to come at all. Around two months after the television special, residents of Staten Island filed a class action lawsuit against Willowbrook.
It would mark the beginning of the long end for the institution. Lurking beneath the negative publicity was an even more heinous contour to the story of Willowbrook.
- Evening without Stars.
- What Goes Around: Outraged Employees Stand Up to Abuse at Work.
- Vagabonds (The End Series Book 2).
In , New York University Dr. Saul Krugman began using patients as human experiments for the treatment of hepatitis, as he would continue to do for about 20 years. Krugman argued that rates of hepatitis infection ran 90 percent within Willowbrook, so the chances his human hosts would never have come down with the disease was very low.