WATERVILLE — Demonstrators holding signs outside Kennebec Behavioral Health on Eustis Parkway early Monday said they were protesting the departure of a beloved community support worker.

The worker, Hildy Curato, of Sidney, had been employed there many years and helped clients tremendously, the handful of picketers said.

“They (KBH officials) still won’t tell us what happened and we have a right to know,” said Sheila Gaulin, 54, of Winslow.

Gaulin said she is bipolar and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and that Curato had been a big part of her life since 1998. Gaulin said Curato helped her a great deal and taught her how to cope so well that she no longer needs medications. She said Curato stopped working at the facility about a week ago.

“If I was to just drop off the face of the earth, she would want to know what happened to me,” Gaulin said. “Trust is a big issue when you have a mental illness and it takes a long time to build trust.”

George Myers Jr., KBH director of communications and community outreach, said he could not comment on the issue because of confidentiality rules.

“One of the hallmarks of KBH is a scrupulous attention to confidentiality — whether it be that of our clients, our former clients, our employees or former employees,” Myers said in an email. “For that reason, it wouldn’t be appropriate to talk about anyone in particular. I’m happy to say, however, that when changes occur, KBH makes sure that our clients’ needs are addressed first and foremost, and quickly, so there is no interruption of supports or services for them.”

Efforts to reach Curato by phone and Facebook on Monday were unsuccessful.

The picketers, who arrived around 7 a.m., stood on the edge of the snowy road holding signs that said, “Bring Hildy Back,” and “We Deserve the Truth.”

Chad Nelson, 37, of Waterville, said Curato was a caring listener and he learned a lot in her group meetings. Mona Gagnon, 50, of Waterville, said that when she had problems, Curato was always supportive.

Brittney Young, 23, of Waterville, said that if Curato no longer runs the support meetings, she will not attend them.

“She was the only reason why people kept coming back,” she said.

William McDonald, 49, of Waterville, said he is worried about his future without Curato’s presence.
“When I found out she was gone, I was very upset — I would definitely like to see her come back,” he said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247
acalder@centralmaine.com