Labor Unions Push for Improved Safety at State Mental Health Hospitals
A coalition of four labor unions representing state hospital workers is pushing for the state to address safety concerns at hospitals run by the Department of Mental Health, the Sacramento Bee's "The State Worker" reports.
Members of the Safety Now! coalition include the:
- American Federation of State County & Municipal Employees;
- California Association of Psychiatric Technicians;
- Services Employees International Union-Local 1000; and
- Union of American Physicians & Dentists (Dave, "The State Worker," Sacramento Bee, 7/6).
Details of Safety Campaign
The labor unions say the state has made little progress to improve security since a Napa State Hospital psychiatric technician was strangled in October 2010.
Employees at Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk, one of the state's mental health hospitals, say they need:
- Full-time police officers stationed at the facility;
- High-security housing for violent patients;
- Improved alarm systems; and
- Increased staffing levels (Hoeffel/Romney, Los Angeles Times, 7/7).
Sean Tracy, spokesperson for DMH, said the department shares its workers' concerns about safety. Tracy added that DMH is hiring for 78 positions focused on safety and security (Mohajer, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 7/6).
Bills Aim To Address Violence
In related news, several bills making their way through the state Legislature aim to address safety issues at state mental health hospitals.
Some of the proposals included in the legislation would:
- Accelerate the process of involuntarily medicating certain violent patients;
- Penalize people who bring contraband into state mental health facilities; and
- Require thorough patient risk assessments that account for criminal backgrounds.
A newly formed Assembly Select Committee on Hospital Safety plans to meet next month to examine possible strategies to curb violence in state hospitals (Los Angeles Times, 7/7).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.