Sunday, December 3, 2017

Hawaii State Hospital Update

Welina me ke aloha,

I attended a meeting this week with HSH Administrator Bill May, Windward Community College Chancellor Doug Dykstra and WCC Vice Chancellor Brian Pactol.

The main reason for the meeting was to start discussions and brainstorm better and more efficient ways to notify the community of an escape.  We spent some time on background data and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) before actually doing any brainstorming.

Data Points

HIPPA prevents the HSH from releasing to the public, patient information except for a very bland physical description.  Law Enforcement is not bound as tightly under the HIPAA law and is able to issue a more extensive physical description and possible threat.

Two concurrent investigations are underway:  A criminal investigation into the escapee's decision to leave the hospital - which is a felony and carries a 5-year prison term - and the administrative investigation considering the reasons why over a 10-hour period, HSH employees did not properly report the whereabouts of the escapee.

The investigations are being conducted by two separate teams of the state Attorney General’s office.  I have no details as to when they might conclude their work and have reports available.

Because the investigations are underway, the HSH is unable to provide any real clarity about the issue.  

  • HSH did not know the patient was missing for almost 10 hours.  
  • The HSH was not "sitting on the information" and was not waiting 10 hours to make the proper announcements.  
  • After the patient was discovered missing by other HSH employees, the proper notification process started. 
  • It's significant to me that that seven HSH employees were placed on administrative leave without pay.  I don't believe HSH would act like this unless they felt there was an exceptional breach of security protocols.  
  • Because it took almost ten hours to discover the patient was missing, the proper notifications to HPD and then to NIXLE were not made in a timely manner.
  • We discussed what an escapee's threat to the community might be and how it might be announced.  - Going back to HIPAA, and the limited amount of information that might be put out, we discussed that if a patient left the hospital grounds for whatever reason, that person had committed a felony and should therefore be deemed dangerous.  That seems to make good sense not to approach an escaped patient and to notify the proper authority.
  • WCC has special circumstances of care since they are direct neighbors to the HSH.  Possible improvements could be:
    • enhancements to fencing by creating open but contained walkways.
    • increased fencing heights on the perimeters of the HSH with better deterrents to climbing.
    • use of monitoring devices for those permitted to walk the grounds.
    • using an exercise escape scenario that flex's the reporting protocols from within the hospital, outward to HPD and Sheriffs and a "drill" NIXLE alert.

We agreed to meet again soon – hopefully sooner, if the AG's office completes one or both of the investigations.

Aloha pumehana,
Mo Radke

Chair, Kāne‘ohe Neighborhood Board

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