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Employees: Frequent assaults at Hawaii hospital

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 12:31 p.m. HST, Nov 12, 2013

Some Hawaii State Hospital employees say frequent assaults from patients are keeping them away from work for months, even years.

According to the state, there have been 90 assaults on staff by patients as of the end of August at the state's only public mental hospital, Hawaii News Now (http://ow.ly/qKrjF) reported today.  Last year, there were 120 and in 2011 there were 132.

Dr. Scott Miscovich, who is treating employees who have been injured at the hospital in the last eight months, said he can't send them back to a dangerous environment.

Emelinda Yarte has been out of work for nearly four years because of an attack in December 2009. The psychiatric technician was leading a group of mental patients up some stairs when she saw a patient punching a worker.

"I went back to help and then he slammed me on the wall and that's when my jaw got dislocated," she said. Yarte said she suffered panic attacks when she tried to go back to the hospital.

Her psychologist diagnosed her with post-traumatic stress disorder.

"Nobody should have to go to work and not know if they're going to get kicked in the head or punched or have to get surgery for their shoulder when they walk out that day," said psychologist Mary Horn, who is treating about seven state hospital employees who have been hurt on the job.

Mark Fridovich, the adult mental health administrator for the state health department who oversees the hospital, said when there's an assault there's immediate follow-up to determine what can be done to increase safety.

"Assaults do occur.  We take each and every one of them very, very seriously," Fridovich said. "The problem with assault is even a single incident of it can cause incredible harm to the worker and traumatic experience."

Registered nurse Josh Akeo has been out of work for three months, after being kicked in the head while trying to separate two fighting patients.

"After what the doctor told me, he said the next kick in the head, the next punch in the head could end my life," he said.  "That kind of stunned me. Because in that respect, I'm afraid to go to back to work."

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samidunn wrote:
Any patient with a history of violence should always be in restraints when being moved or around others.
on November 12,2013 | 11:43AM
nigelUV001 wrote:
They probably need more staff. I guess the hard question is : more staff for the mentally ill or more help for the hungry keiki? Of course it is more complicated than that, but the bottom line is that there is probably not enough staff.
on November 12,2013 | 04:51PM
residenttaxpayer wrote:
Or those patients with a chronic history of staff assault should have mandatory medication as well put into close supervision housing where they can be better managed as well.....
on November 13,2013 | 07:53AM
Bdpapa wrote:
Sorry, but violent behavior is not acceptable. Heavily medicate and isolate.
on November 12,2013 | 12:19PM
allie wrote:
scary..like being on the west side every day
on November 12,2013 | 01:33PM
Waterman2 wrote:
oh allie, you gotta let up.
on November 12,2013 | 02:28PM
XlllX wrote:
c'mon down sir let me know when and where
on November 12,2013 | 03:35PM
RetiredWorking wrote:
all lie, not as scary as Spirit Lake Indian Reservation in your home state North Dakota. There, foster parents molest, abuse and kill their own foster kids. How's that for scary, all lie? Of course, she won't respond to this comment, because it's true and truly scary.
on November 12,2013 | 05:06PM
Pocho wrote:
Keep on voitng them LIberal Democrats who in turn appoint LIberal Judges who give send these violent patients to the State Hospital.
on November 12,2013 | 03:29PM
samidunn wrote:
Amen - The weak link in law enforcement, the judges.
on November 12,2013 | 04:43PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
I watched the interview of these state workers on the news. They all strike me as being scabs that are trying to suck the state workers comp employment system dry. One of them, a nurse has been out of work for 4 years and says she is too scared to work with patients? She's mentally disabled now just like the patients she used to care for. Yea right. Another has been out for 2 years after breaking up a fight between patients? Just what did they think this job entailed when they took it? They're all looking for the taxpayer funded "payoff" or settlement of their WC claim. Just Scabs working system is what it looks like to me. Go back to work or quit so someone else can take your civil service job.
on November 12,2013 | 07:44PM
awahana wrote:
I know this sounds inhuman, but I'm being ingenuous here.
We euthanize unwanted animals, why not do the same?
I don't think anyone benefits from their existence, including themselves...
on November 12,2013 | 08:39PM
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