Inspection at ASH follows staff complaint

September 29, 2011

Alshapaul Archie

Cal/OSHA inspectors are checking out Atascadero State Hospital this week in response to a claim of unsafe working conditions at the hospital by a staff member. [KCOY]

The investigation comes on the heels of several patient assaults on ASH staff members.

On Sept. 20, Archie Alshapaul, 30, allegedly stabbed a male psychiatric technician in the face. Alshapaul was arrested on three felony counts — suspicion of assault, obstruction of justice and threatening a police officer.

In late August, ASH patient Desmond Jovan Watkins, 34, allegedly assaulted an unnamed tech who suffered a serious head injury and a broken facial bone.

Watkins is accused of committing two felonies — battery with serious injury and force likely to produce great bodily injury.

ASH psychiatric technician Tess Linhares has noticed an increase in staff assaults.

“A vast majority of the assaults I have seen lately have been coming from the MDO commitments, it’s the mentally disordered offenders,” Linhares told KCOY. “They are at ASH as a stipulation of parole to receive more treatment because they are not efficiently or safely able to be out in the community.”

California Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigators have been at the hospital since Monday. Because of confidentiality practices, officials are not disclosing the specifics of the complaint.

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I would find out who the board members are and contact them Ask them what they are doing about the conditions at the hospital.

There are many “patients” who game the system, they are out of control felons who use the mental institution as a club house. They are violent offenders who are smart enough to know, that if they act crazy they will be transfered to the “state hospital for the criminally insane”. They work the loop holes in the system and get preferential treatment and drugs based on their word not their case. I have several friends who work at the nut house and they tell some outrageous stories of abuse and manipulating by non insane criminals who spend their time here instead of the high security prisons where they belong.

Yep. I’ve seen that too. I was on an admissions unit and it was interesting to say the least. The SVP’s really took the cake for manipulation.

I know for a fact that this guy (Archie) has been directly involved or instigated many staff injuries. He’s just a retard with no redeeming qualities that will never get better and is costing the taxpayer $230.000 a year. (If you didn’t know it that is what each patient at ASH costs you).

As for the new high security unit…… It never happened! It’s didn’t open!

That ‘s very interesting since a friend of mine, a new hire PT(in orientation as I write) has been assigned to the unit and has already been on the unit during her orientation last week and this week and will be next week.

I should also add that from what she’s said, the unit just opened or is in the process of opening.

Maybe you should ask your friend again.

She says it’s Unit 4 that is the new Extensive Treatment Specialty unit and she’s on it. Though honestly, with some of the guys in there, I’m not sure how corralling just the 30 worst will make that big of a difference. Seems like they would need to open 4 or 5 to make any real difference.

Maybe she has not been kept informed on the status of this unit.

Korie is right. The unit itself opened so they could keep the staff together but the patients aren’t the Extensive Treatment Specialty ones.

Staff (psych techs, nurses and other in contact with patients) receive a two of three day crash course on self defense. As for DPS, I don’t know whether or not they’ve been hiring more or not. There had been a hiring freeze so staffing is low and they are just now starting to hire a few more psych techs, but so far only a handful that I’m aware of. They have started a new unit for non-compliant patients that need more extensive treatment and there are DPS officers assigned to that unit. Hopefully that will reduce violence elsewhere within the hospital. Whether these are new hires, I have no idea.

I worked there for 5 years. We did receive self-defense training annually and it probably saved lots of lives but conditions were and very unsafe inside the units where the men live. Units are totally closed off from the rest of the hospital, with locking doors and NO security staff inside the units. So, staff must walk down corridors that have very hard surfaced walls and floors, alone. Doors to each room open onto these hallways and 1to 4 men live in a room. You, as staff, don’t know when someone will come out angry and take it out on you. And these guys are angry – they have just served prison time for their crime (which might have been avoided if they were treated for their mental illness BEFORE the crime). Now, they are “Paroled” to a locked mental hospital for another 2 year sentence because the legal system has decided they are unable to manage parole conditions due to their mental illness.

Taxpayer – the first solution would be a law change – making it a crime to assault a mental health employee. Now, it is criminal to assault security staff, who are not in much danger because they aren’t in the unit, but it is NOT criminal to assault a 90 pound female psych. tech. who must tell you to do something you don’t want to do. Psych tech’s must “persuade” men to shower, go to meals, go to therapy, go to meetings, get up in the morning and a million other things which could make a mentally ill guy angry. It is dangerous work. The next solution would be to have security staff IN THE UNIT.

I should think it would already be a crime to assault a staff member. Isn’t assault a crime, period? Are you saying if you’re locked up in ASH there are staff who don’t have the rights as any other citizen? That doesn’t sound right to me and I think you’re wrong. Assault under any circumstance (apart from self defense) is a crime.

Second, what you describe is clearly a dangerous situation. It makes no sense that woman are walking those corridors and entering those units alone. Woman should not be working in those units. Self deference or not, they are no match more a man. With or without security accompanying them, it only takes a second to land a punch on a woman and chances are, her body will sustain far more severe injuries than a man will.

Third, It only makes sense that no staff member should be entering that area without back up. There should always be two staff members. That’ just common sense. These are mentally disturbed criminals that can’t manage the terms of parole. Thank God they aren’t on the streets. ASH needs more staff, we owe to them to keep them safe while they in turn keep us safe.

It’s a misdemeanor to assault a mental health worker and a felony to assault prison staff. Go figure!!

Has the security at ASH declined lately? Is there adequate security available, or have budget cuts made the working conditions more dangerous? Does the staff receive any self-defensive training? As a taxpayer I would like to think that this is a problem that can be solved not by just throwing money at it, but as a concerned citizen I want those who work there to not be put in harm’s way needlessly.