Calif. Officials Seek To Address Safety Concerns in State Mental Hospitals
State officials are seeking ways to curb violence against staff and patients in California's mental health hospitals, NPR's "Morning Edition" reports (Jaffe, "Morning Edition," NPR, 7/21).
In 2006, violent incidents and other issues prompted the U.S. Department of Justice to file a lawsuit and order reforms at four of California's five state-run mental health hospitals. Despite the court-ordered reforms, the number of assaults against staff and patients has increased at most of the facilities.
According to a study obtained by California's Select Committee on State Hospital Safety, there were about 6,700 aggressive incidents and about 5,100 injuries at the state's mental health facilities in 2010. Of those injuries, about 1,000 happened to staff members (California Healthline, 5/16).
Addressing the Violence
Despite California's budget issues, state mental health hospitals will receive $10 million more this year than they did last year.
Diana Dooley, secretary of California's Health and Human Services Agency, said the $10 million is enough to begin improving safety at the facilities.
For example, the state is:
- Exempting hospitals from a statewide hiring freeze and adding staff;
- Gearing up to establish a new department that will focus only on mental health hospitals; and
- Planning to test a new alarm system.
In addition, state legislators have introduced at least five bills that are designed to improve safety at the hospitals ("Morning Edition," NPR, 7/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.