In reponse to the violent attacks at Napa State Hospital and other Department of Mental Health facilities, UAPD-represented doctors have been speaking on the record with the press to bring public attention to the problem of patient and worker safety in the state’s mental health hospitals. Below is a selection from the dozens of articles that UAPD has helped shape.
Interim chief named to manage state’s troubled Department of Mental Health – LA Times
• About 90% of the hospital system’s patients have committed a crime related to their illnesses — a trend that has increased dramatically in recent years — and employee groups have called for a new director who has psychiatric experience working with a criminalized population.”
State mental health department head to retire – LA Times
• “Our union and others were frustrated in our working relationship with DMH leadership,” said Dr. Stuart Bussey, president of the Union of American Physicians and Dentists, which represents the hospitals’ psychiatrists and other medical doctors. “Hopefully the Brown administration will look outside the current DMH organization for an effective leader.”
Under Fire, Mental Health Chief Retires – Bay Citizen
• Since the strangling death of a psychiatric technician at Napa State Hospital in October, the Department of Mental Health has been under pressure to improve the safety of the facility, which treats mentally ill patients, most of whom have been committed there by criminal courts.
• The profile of the patients treated in state mental hospitals has radically changed during Mayberg’s tenure as director. Some 92 percent of the patients in the hospitals today were referred there by the criminal justice system, according to the Department of Mental Health. Fifteen years ago, the figure was just 20 percent.
Violence at state hospitals spurs calls for change – LA Times
• “We believe you can’t possibly treat an individual who is highly aggressive without sufficient security enhancements,” said Dr. Patricia Tyler, a psychiatrist at Napa who is working on behalf of the Union of American Physicians and Dentists to help design proposed fixes to the system.
• Dr. Richard Frishman, a Napa State Hospital psychiatrist, works in an office that is tucked out of sight. In 2008, he was beaten by a patient, his wrist broken and his eye blackened.
Senator Sam Blakeslee plans to roll out up to four bills to address worker safety concerns at Atascadero State Hospital.
Mental hospital attacks shed light on persistent violence – California Watch
• Lawmakers are already grappling with what can be done to remedy what’s emerged as a serious problem with the death of psychiatric technician Donna Gross. It’s almost inevitable that a raft of legislative proposals will also spark debate between mental health experts calling for therapy and workers calling for security.
Lawyers: Suspect in Mental Hospital Attack Incompetent to Stand Trial – Bay Citizen
• “The California system is not equipped to deal with people like Mr. Bouchie,” said Sue Wilson, spokeswoman for the Union of American Physicians and Dentists, which represents psychiatrists in the Napa hospital.
• “It’s not clear where he belongs, but it’s clear that Napa State Hospital is not the right place for someone like Mr. Bouchie to be,” Wilson said.
“Forum” with Michael Krasny — KQED
• Several violent attacks on staff by mentally disordered patients at Napa State Hospital have generated calls for more security.
After Attacks and a Killing, Fear Stalks Napa State Hospital — New York Times
• Every single unit is contaminated in its atmosphere with a culture of violence,” said Patricia Tyler, a psychiatrist at the hospital since 2006.
• The Union of American Physicians and Dentists, which represents psychiatrists in the Napa hospital, has recommended that patients who have displayed very aggressive behavior be housed and treated in their own heavily secured unit
• Strategy documents and meeting notes from the hospital show that such a plan was extensively explored at Napa in 2006, but it foundered on the question of how to provide security for the specialized unit.
Two state lawmakers tour Napa State Hospital
• But, there were two visitors they could not turn away, Assm. Michael Allen, D-Napa/Sonoma, and state Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa.
• “My reaction is it is indefensible, I am furious about it, we should not be putting people in this kind of jeopardy,” Evans said.
Hospital patient in custody after allegedly assaulting rehabilitation therapist
• Staffers began demanding improved safety measures before Gross’ slaying but said they received little response from hospital and state mental health administrators.
Legislators focus on safety at state hospitals – Atascadero News
• As California’s state hospitals draw attention for violence, Atascadero State Hospital, said to have the state’s most dangerous patient population, is working with legislators to reduce violence at that facility.
A history of violence – New Times San Louis Obsipo
• Facilities around California–like Atascadero State Hospital–have suffered under changes to the state’s mental health system.
• It was the beginning of a new therapy model under a mandated Enhancement Plan, which then led to the Wellness Recovery Program.
• The new model created a softcore approach to treating patients, some of whom bounce between the hospital and state prison system, where they absorb a prison mentality. And it’s made punishing bad behavior or even discouraging it virtually impossible, employees say.
Patient aggression intensifies at Napa State Hospital – LA Times
• The reforms are the result of a 2006 lawsuit by the U.S. Department of Justice targeting Napa and three other state mental hospitals.