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California coalition: Legislation helps strengthen safety in state hospitals

Governor Jerry Brown (D-CA) has signed urgently needed legislation aimed at increasing safety and services -- and decreasing violence and assaults -- in California’s five state hospitals, according to the Safety Now Coalition, a coalition of workers in California's Department of Mental Health Hospitals.

Assembly Bill 1340, authored by Asm. Katcho Achadjian, will create enhanced-treatment programs to house and assist state-hospital patients with the most aggressive and dangerous behaviors. Established at Atascadero, Coalinga, Napa, and Patton State Hospitals, the residences will feature intensive staffing, programs and treatments to help this high-risk population, all while upholding patients’ rights through rigorous hearing and ombudsman processes. The bill will begin January 1, 2015.cheap authentic louis vuitton handbags

Assembly Bill 1960, authored by Asm. Henry Perea, will allow California state-hospital law-enforcement and licensed mental-health personnel to access and review criminal-history information for patients in these facilities’ care, allowing mental-health professionals to better gear programs and services toward patients’ individual behavioral needs.

State-hospital professionals shared personal stories of their own assaults and called for the bills’ passage at recent rallies and State Capitol hearings, where they noted that, according to California Department of State Hospitals data, aggressive acts in these forensic facilities are on the rise: In 2012 alone, there were 3,149 violent patient acts against staff and 3,914 violent acts upon other patients.

In addition, several violent incidents have happened in state hospitals in just the past few months, including the May 28 murder of an ASH patient by a peer as well as a May 24 sexual assault on an NSH psychiatric technician, a May 27 battery on a psychologist, a May 30 beating of a social worker and a severe June 4 assault on an NSH patient.

"The minority of individuals are causing the majority of assaults, and we need to protect all our patients plus ourselves while providing medical and mental-health services," said Zach Hatton, a Napa State Hospital recreational therapist and facility chief steward for AFSCME Local 2620 who himself was recently assaulted. "These signed bills give us some important tools to help our state hospitals."

The governor’s signatures on these bills come a few weeks before the four-year anniversary of the Oct. 23, 2010, murder of Napa State Hospital psychiatric technician Donna Gross, who was killed by an NSH patient in an outdoor area where NSH employees’ electronic crisis alarms did not work. As they have since the tragedy, state-hospital employees will mark the date with solemn statewide remembrances and continued safety pledges.imitation louis vuitton purses

 

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