Several months ago, Napa State Hospital management distributed a memorandum to the medical staff stating that they had decided to utilize the Personal Duress Alarm System (PDAS) as the primary method to contact physicians, because management had determined that the hospital’s pager system was unreliable. UAPD was staunchly opposed to this new policy.

After Psych Tech Donna Gross was murdered by a patient on NSH grounds in 2010, enormous efforts went towards winning a host of safety improvements at the State hospitals.  That work continues to the present. The PDAS is a state-of-the-art system chosen, developed, and continuously refined with employee input.  At no time did the state legislature, Cal-OSHA, Coalition unions, or the DSH contemplate any use for PDAS except as a personal alarm. And, as PDAS’s sole purpose is to alert all staff in the vicinity of an emergency request for help due to attack, the system has the potential to save lives. Diverting its use for any other purpose undermines the system’s effectiveness. Nevertheless, recognizing that the hospital’s current pager system indeed is not reliable, the UAPD agreed to meet with DSH in order to negotiate implementation of the new policy.

Even before meeting, UAPD offered a compromise that would allow NSH to use PDAS for contacting physicians in emergent situations only. The Department agreed to this compromise, but unfortunately NSH announced a different policy the next day. UAPD demanded that the Department cease and desist this new policy until the parties could meet and confer. The Department refused, and subsequently rejected additional UAPD compromise proposals. In breaking the initial agreement and rejecting all the Union’s proposals without adequate explanation, DSH failed to negotiate in good faith with the Union. This constitutes illegal behavior, so UAPD filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge with the Public Employee Relations Board (PERB)—the state agency charged with overseeing labor law in California.

Since filing the charge, UAPD has learned that other DSH hospitals are using PDAS to send text messages to doctors that are not generated by an emergency tag pull. If this has happened to you, please be sure to take a photo of the message with your phone, and send that photo immediately to your UAPD labor representative:

Napa:  Jeff Duritz, jduritz@uapd.com
Atascadero: Lisa Ford-Lewis, llewis@uapd.com
Coalinga: Albert Munoz, amunoz@uapd.com
Metropolitan: Glynnis Golden-Ortiz, ggoldenortiz@uapd.com
Patton: Chris Ige, cige@uapd.com

The Department’s response to the ULP charge is due June 5th. UAPD will send updates as the situation unfolds.