Hawaii State Hospital’s 25-year-old surveillance systems to be brought up to date
The Hawaii State Hospital is replacing 25-year-old surveillance systems, some of which aren’t operational, with new digital equipment to bring the facility up to date and improve safety for patients and staff.
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The Hawaii State Hospital is replacing 25-year-old surveillance systems, some of which
aren’t operational, with new digital equipment to bring the facility up to date and improve safety for patients and staff.
The state Health
Department, which oversees the Kaneohe psychiatric hospital with more than 200 patients, would not disclose how many cameras are not working, but said it can no longer get many of the parts needed to repair those that are broken.
The department said plans are in place to install more than 300 new cameras and other digital equipment in August at
a cost of about $560,000, replacing an outdated analog system. A source familiar with the situation who asked not to be identified said hospital employees have complained for years about the faulty security system — including perimeter and internal surveillance — which is jeopardizing the safety of patients, staff and the public.
of Health spokeswoman
Janice Okubo said the
hospital would not disclose information about the inoperable parts of the surveillance system because “patients read that stuff
in the paper” and may try to figure out ways to get around areas that are
“It’s a security risk. Their patients have nothing else to do during the day except plot how they’re going to leave. With what little information they can get, they’re going to use it to try to figure out a way to leverage that,” Okubo said. “It frustrates their ability to secure the patients if we advertise where potential deficiencies may be in the system. Then we’re actually telling patients where they can take advantage of the staff.”
In the most recent high-profile case, State Hospital escapee Randall Saito in November 2017 walked off the grounds, took a taxi to the airport and boarded a chartered flight to Maui, then took
a flight to San Jose, Calif. Saito was committed to the facility in 1981 after being acquitted of murder by reason of insanity for killing a 29-year-old woman in Ala Moana Center’s parking lot. He wasn’t reported missing until eight to 10 hours after his escape, and wasn’t captured until three days later in Stockton, Calif.
“For people to think cameras are the only surveillance that takes place on campus is misleading. There’s a whole system in place and the cameras are part of it,” Okubo added. “Other components of the security system include security guards who are actually on the units and around the building.”
The hospital has doubled the amount of security guards to 30 and has increased staffing levels
to one-to-two staff members per patient at any given time, she said. In
addition, all staff members carry a personal alert device that allows them to
report a problem with the press of a button.
“We’ve been doing workarounds prioritizing areas, and increased physical staff — security staff roving within and outside the units and along the perimeter,” she said. “That’s a redundancy, which is part of our overall security for the hospital. It should be noted that no escapes have occurred in over a year since the (Randall Saito) escape.”
Virtually all the patients treated at the state’s only public adult psychiatric hospital for serious mental illness are ordered there by the court. The facility was built with a 178-bed capacity but routinely exceeds its now 202 licensed beds.
the Health Department $160.5 million to builda
new 144-bed psychiatric
facility. The new security system will include secure entry and exits, a central
security station that is manned 24 hours a day,
as well as a “highly secure outdoor yard area with no-climb fencing.”
The state broke ground on a new forensic building in August and the project is expected to be completed in December 2020. Last year, the DOH also erected additional interior security fencing around existing buildings that house the higher-risk patients at a cost of about $250,000.
Meanwhile, the Kaneohe hospital is also searching for a new director following the May departure of administrator William May.