Staff Increases at State Mental Hospitals Proposed
The Department of Mental Health has proposed creating more than 300 new staff positions, the majority of which are for psychologists, in its fiscal year 2007 budget in an attempt to alleviate state hospitals' chronic staffing shortages, the San Luis Obispo Tribune reports.
The proposal includes funding for 176 additional psychologists, but critics of the plan say that it does not include funding for enough registered nurses and psychiatric technicians at state hospitals.
The Legislature currently is examining the budget proposal, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is expected to revise the plan in May.
Atascadero State Hospital -- which had seven vacant psychiatrist positions and 217 nurse or psychiatric technician job vacancies as of Feb. 1 -- would receive an additional 130 staff members under the plan, including 57 psychologists.
Staff at ASH have criticized the proposed budget, saying hiring more psychologists while using a new treatment system that focuses on psychiatric counseling "neglects necessary medical avenues needed to treat the criminally insane" and leaves staff vulnerable to patient violence, the Tribune reports (Curran, San Luis Obispo Tribune, 3/21).