FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Albert C. Victoria, II,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 87-186

 

Superintendent, Norwich State Hospital,

 

Respondent January 27, 1988

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 30, 1987, August 27, 1987 and November 9, 1987, at which times the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.

 

After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found:

 

1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

2. By letter dated June 17, 1987, the complainant requested copies of the following records:

 

a. Any records pertaining to the due process complaint filed by the complainant with the Residency Review Committee for Psychiatry of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (hereinafter "RRC"), including any cover letters and a "run down of enclosures."

 

b. Any records pertaining to the complaint filed by the complainant with the RRC, alleging deficiencies in the respondent's educational program.

 

c. Any records pertaining to the procurement and retention of accreditation of the Residency Training Program in Psychiatry, including any votes taken at meetings at which the various requirements of the "Essentials of Accredited Residencies" and the "Special Requirements for Psychiatry" were discussed.

 

Docket #FIC 87-186 Page 2

 

d. Any regulations adopted by the Norwich State Hospital in its effort to comport with the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals' guidelines for the formulation of Medical Staff Bylaws, Rules and Regulations, Article VIII-Hearing and Appellate Review Procedures, including its procedures governing the Hearing and Appeals Committee.

 

3. Having received no reply from the respondent, by letter dated June 29, 1987 and filed with the Commission on July 1, 1987, the complainant alleged the respondent violated the Freedom of Information Act by failing to provide copies of the requested records.

 

4. The complainant also requested the imposition of a civil penalty.

 

5. At the hearing on July 30, 1987, the Commission initially dismissed the complaint without prejudice for failure to prosecute. Subsequently, the hearing was reopened upon the appearance of the complainant.

 

6. At the hearing on August 27, 1987, the parties stated they had reached a tentative agreement in settlement of the matter.

 

7. Prior to the hearing scheduled for October 20, 1987, the respondent filed motions for a continuance and for a more definite statement.

 

8. Due to the postponement of the October 20, 1987 hearing, and clarification by the complainant of his request, the respondent's motions are denied.

 

9. The respondent claims he has provided the complainant with copies of the requested records described in paragraphs 2a, 2b, 2c and 2d, above.

 

10. It is found the respondent failed to respond in writing to the complainant's request for records within four business days in violation of 1-21i(a), G.S.

 

11. It also is found the records described in paragraphs 2a, 2b, 2c and 2d, above, are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.

 

12. It further is found the respondent provided the complainant with copies of the records described in paragraph 2a, above, except for copies of the "enclosures" sent to the RRC.

 

Docket #FIC 87-186 Page 3

 

13. The respondent claims the "enclosures" do not fall within the scope of the complainant's request for the records described in paragraph 2a, above.

 

14. It is found the "enclosures" fall within the scope of the complainant's request for the records described in paragraph 2a, above, and therefore the respondent's failure to provide the complainant with copies of such records violated 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.

 

15. It also is found the respondent has provided the complainant with copies of the records described in paragraph 2b, above, and with copies of certain records described in paragraph 2c, above.

 

16. It further is found that while the complainant was a resident at the Norwich State Hospital, the Program Evaluation and Research Committee took minutes of its monthly meetings at which it conducted periodic program effectiveness evaluations of each of the eight major phases of psychiatric treatment at the respondent hospital, including length of stay decisions, evaluation of treatment progress and outcomes and patient discharge decision making.

 

17. It further is found the records described in paragraph 16, above, fall within the scope of the complainant's request for the records described in paragraph 2c, above.

 

18. It therefore is concluded the respondent's failure to provide the complainant with copies of the minutes described in paragraph 16, above, violated 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.

 

19. It is found that although the complainant questions the Norwich State Hospital's retention of accreditation for its residency in training program, the Commission does not have jurisdiction over that issue.

 

20. It also is found the respondent has provided the complainant with copies of certain records described in paragraph 2d, above.

 

21. It is found, however, the complainant's request for the records described in paragraph 2d, above, primarily concerns the procedures for grievances, arbitration, dismissal, suspension, demotion or other disciplines which are outlined in Articles XXXIII and XXXIV of the Contract between the State of Connecticut and the New England Professional Health Care Employees Union.

 

Docket #FIC 87-186 Page 4

 

22. It further is found the respondent no longer has a copy of the contract described in paragraph 21, above, that was in effect at the time the complainant was a resident at the Norwich State Hospital.

 

23. It therefore is concluded the respondent has provided the complainant with copies of all the requested records in his posession with respect to the records described in paragraph 2d, above.

 

24. The Commission declines to impose a civil penalty.

 

The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

 

1. The respondent shall forthwith provide the complainant with copies of the enclosures described in paragraph 12 of the findings, above.

 

2. If the respondent has copies of the minutes described in paragraph 16, above, he shall forthwith provide the complainant with such records.

 

3. Henceforth, the respondent shall act in strict compliance with the requirements of 1-15, 1-19(a), and 1-21i(a), G.S.

 

4. The Commission notes that the lengthy delay in resolving this matter is due primarily to the failure of the respondent and his staff to make a reasonable effort to understand the complainant's request. The Commission urges the respondent to make such an effort in response to any future requests for public records.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 27, 1988.

 

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission