Chronicle Reports on Problems in State Mental Health Hospitals
The San Francisco Chronicle this weekend reported on a "fundamental flaw" within California's mental health system: housing "[c]riminally inclined, often violent patients" in state hospitals that are "ill-equipped to handle them." To illustrate the problem, the Chronicle profiled Napa State Hospital, where the recent murder of a patient allegedly by another patient, is the "latest in a series of disturbing incidents" at the hospital, including "reports of other suspicious deaths, assaults, rapes and evidence of patient abuse." Joan Bartos, a social worker who used to work at Napa, said that "[t]his particular death is the result of some serious long-term problems in providing care," adding that Napa State Hospital is "not a safe place for patients to be treated" and is "a very dangerous place for staff." The Chronicle reports that Napa is "overcrowded" and understaffed, and that the workers at the facility have "minimal training to deal with" the facility's increasing number of violent patients. Also, "[p]atient-on-patient assaults" are a "near daily occurrence" but are "rarely investigated." Responding to the recent murder, the state licensing board and a patients' rights organization, Protection and Advocacy Inc., are conducting investigations of the facility. In addition to describing the circumstances surrounding the murder, the article also details licensing violations at the hospital (Doyle/Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/22).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.