Friday, March 21, 2014

Senate Hearing on Hawaii State Hospital

The special investigative committee on the Hawaii State Hospital will meet on Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 9 AM in conference room 16 at the Hawaii State Capitol.

Issues being investigated include:

  1. Workplace safety of psychiatric workers,
  2. failure to conform to established employee meant policies
  3. and allegations of administrative improprieties primarily related to excessive use of overtime

These are important issues in the administration of the State Hospital. 

I have talked with several security workers at the Hospital and have been told they consider their jobs dangerous and assaults on staff are a continuing problem. By law, patients at the Hospital are patients, and even though many of them have committed crimes, they are not criminals. Security personnel may only use that degree of force necessary to prevent a patient from hurting himself or others. Guards walk a tight rope between control and excessive force, they're not permitted to use weapons to suppress violence.

There are two major impacts on the Hawaii State Hospital budget:

One is an aging population and high medical expenses to care for chronically sick patients.

The other is staffing and related overtime. Patients must be fed and security must be maintained. When staff is unavailable to perform these services due to illness, vacations or vacant positions the only alternative is to require staff to work overtime. Furloughs have compounded the problem and instead of saving money have actually wasted it.

These are issues that effect not only the State Hospital; they have direct impact on Kaneohe.

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