Employees raise safety issues at newly constructed psych hospital

New documents released by the Hawaii Labor Relations Board showed that work conditions and security measures at the Kaneohe-based Hawaii State Hospital have contributed to some safety concerns, Civil Beat reported Nov. 29.

The hospital came under scrutiny after a 29-year-old nurse was stabbed to death by a former patient in early November. The patient, who had been discharged from the hospital, was living in transitional housing on the campus.

Recently released records and testimony from the Hawaii Government Employees Association revealed how some of the hospital's security upgrades actually resulted in more safety concerns, with situations including:

  • Frequent malfunctioning of badge readers spurring some staff to prop doors open.
  • Janitors and others having unfettered access to the secure medicine room.
  • Staff lacking proper training on how to operate doors from a centralized control station.
  • Difficult-to-operate doors leaving nurses locked inside seclusion rooms, sometimes with patients experiencing violent outbursts.

A nurse manager at the facility testified that there was often not enough staff for the number of patients and staff received very little training on how to operate the improved security systems.

The Hawaii Department of Health, which oversees the state hospital, had declined Civil Beat's request for comment.

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