ASH assaults continue in new year

January 18, 2013

ash2Patients have injured seven employees at Atascadero State Hospital in the first two weeks of 2013. [Tribune]

An attack Monday resulted in employees suffering scratches, bruises and muscle strains. A police officer also sustained an injury in the patient assault Monday.

Other incidents this month left ASH employees with cuts to the head, back pain, and hand and arm injuries.

ASH did not release the names of the injured employees, but all of the state hospital workers injured were nursing employees.

Last month, a psychology technician at ASH ended up in Twin Cities Hospital in Templeton after trying to break up a fight between two patients. One of the patients, 24-year-old Michael Lopez, allegedly pounded the psychology technician several times in the head. Another psychology technician also sustained facial injuries from trying to break up the fight and went home from work early.

In November 2012, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health fined ASH $27,000 for frequent patient assaults on employees. The Cal/OSHA report stated that an average of 10 patient caused injuries occurred each month in 2012 from January to September.


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This is getting ridiculous. We don’t hear of these problems in our prisons so why is assault a NEVER ENDING story at ASH? Yes the prisoners are all unstable but that is why they’re at ASH to begin with? If the professionals are properly medicating the patients and taking precautions then why all the assaults?

Frankly, after the Tribune did an article about the ASH caregiver who got a massive tattoo across her chest (announcing herself as a victim) and flaunted the ugly self mutilation to the press, I’d say that some of these caregivers have plenty of their own psychological problems. It would probably be less costly to hire caregivers with professional backgrounds suited to deal with/manage the mentally ill. As for all these woman who want to do a man’s job by dealing with mentally ill male prisoners but want special protection because they’re female and can’t handle the male prisoners, well dah, get a job that you can do.

You need to really know why the assaults are happening. As you read the article about the assaults it is usually the employees who are being assaulted and who are helping to break up the fights. Where are the guards? They are nowhere because no one wants to call this a prison, it’s a hospital. No one dare call them inmates, they are patients. That is why it cost us taxpayers close to $220,000 a year to care for each of these”patients”. Why are they not properly medicated? That is very simple, because the courts have ruled that the “patients” do not have to take their medication if they do not want to.

Over the years the Atascadero “Hospital” has slowly transformed into a prison. There has been the addition of the watch tower and all of the razor sharp wire added to the fencing. The hospital use to be for sex offenders, that is not true today. The current population is made up of hard core felons who are not only violent but suffer from mental illness also. Unfortunately like most governmental actions someone will have to be seriously injured or killed before some politician will take this dangerous situation on and attempt to fix it.

When criminals have to be hospitalized, they have guards at the hospital.

Call it a hospital, the residents patients and staff whatever you want. ASH needs to be run like a prison that specializes in treating the violent mentally ill. It’s just as dangerous as a prison especially if the “patients aren’t medicated, so why isn’t it run like a prison? And another thing, medication is the only fix for severe mental illness or even serious depression and if the patients are there to be stabilized, then why are they allowed to stay there if they refuse to be treated?

It used to be that people had to be suited for the job they applied for. Woman and scrawny men are not suited. Some of the employees have the job because they will scream discrimination for gender or brawn, then we all end up paying for their physical incompetence.

ASH needs caregiver guards.

Frankly, this sums up my thoughts on opinions expressed by you. Rush to judgment much? One article and 2000 employees are summarily deemed unstable? I am often amazed at how sure some people can be on such a wide array of subjects. Why bother with research? I feel I’m being rude but these constant over-simplified packaged solutions based on threads of anecdotal knowledge that may or may not be pertinent to the scenario – it is really annoying.

Some of the same people who express compassion for the homeless yet think every guy at ASH is a savage deserving of pure disgust?? You don’t get it. They are largely the same people a good share of the time. Of course that is a generalization that does not come close to applying to every homeless person or every guy at ASH, but the overlap is significant.

This problem is ridiculously complex and goes to the root of the human condition and the reality of problems that can’t be completely solved but must be managed in the best way possible. The mentally ill have rights – sometimes they might seem excessive but it is also necessary to protect those who have been abused for their illness. A good share of the guys are actually low functioning/ childlike and impulsive. You’ve all known them in your lives but now they are grown men. Their temper tantrums are dangerous. What should we do with them? Haha Medicate them right? Okay. Wave that wand. There are some fantastic psychiatrists and some pretty amazing medications out there, but the human brain is individual and dynamic. I’ve seen guys who seem hopeless then two months later are lucid and kind. I’ve seen the opposite as well, and it is hard to watch. I wouldn’t wish their torture on anyone I love – and I am not naive enough to think that this could never happen to someone that I love. How would I want them to be treated?

I wish no one ever got hurt at ASH, of course. But simply stating numbers of assaults is pointless. Saying that only brawny he-men should work there is a demonstration of ignorance. Sometimes a tiny woman is able to defuse a situation very efficiently.

It’s a hard job and the front line staff should be appreciated for their service. Society is imperfect. Many more of these guys would be walking among us if not for those willing to face the non-glossy truth on a daily basis. On the other hand, come by and meet a few then tell me they should all be exterminated or that you have an easy answer. Ugh.

Frankly korie, there isn’t a word you said that I would disagree with. Regardless, there are still too many assaults going on at ASH and the staff is continuously complaining and demanding protection. That would indicate that while the problem is complex it is still a BIG PROBLEM.

You state “Sometimes a tiny woman is able to defuse a situation very efficiently.” Sure she can but what about when she can’t and she gets punched in the head instead? I haven’t said that the patients should be mistreated, I said that ASH needs to be run like a prison and the caregivers need to function as guards first (take no chances just like prison) and caregivers second. A woman is no match to be alone or within reach of an unstable mentally ill criminal, it’s that simple.

It is UNKIND and unfair to place a mentally ill criminal in a position where he can do more harm and get himself into more trouble, isn’t it? After all, it’s not his fault so whose fault is it when someone gets hurt? Why should the tax payers have to pay extra for BIG BABYSITTERS to protect the staff when we could simply hire staff that can protect themselves?

But you make an assumption that the assaults are mostly against tiny women. That is incorrect. “Assault” also covers a very wide range of incidents.

The insane are incapable of caring for themselves and are more of a danger to themselves.

The “criminally” crazes are a definite and constant dangers to others and should be treated according to Bible principles i.e. and eye for an eye each and every time!

These are NOT patients. They are violent criminals who belong behind bars and / or lobotomized.

It’s time to take back the asylum from control of the lunatics.

Ted, were you invented by Charles Dickens? One of the lost novels, perhaps? The ignorance of the community about the clientel in ASH is astounding. First of all, we haven’t had SVP’s there for 5 years. They are all over in Coalinga State Hospital. Currently there are four categories by penal code of men housed there:

The first and largest contingent are there under PC 2962, and have already done prison time but are too dangerous to be on regular community parole and so are doing there parole with ASH. The next

group are referrals from Corrections, sent to ASH to stabilize their mental illness and then return to, Prison (PC2684).. Third we have guys who are Incompetent to stand trial(PC 1370). They are to disturbed to be able to participate in a trial and are sent to ASH to be “restored to competency.” Last, we have NGI’s or PC 1026’s. These fellows are Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity .There’s the roster, get your info right the next time you all start shooting your mouth off about things you know squat about.

Thanks for the info. I have an idea that Ted is not the only one ignorant of the specifics you mention. I was not aware that all the SVPs had been moved to Coalinga either although I knew about the other types there.

Nice analysis. Thanks. Mgnt question is which group does most of the assaults and what is actually being done to protect the guards/techs? This is a job I’d never want so thanks to those who do it.

As many have proffered before, the troubles with ASH is the damn Unions! Get these Unions out of ASH and get workers in there at minimum wage so they can be attacked at 1/3 the pay with no benefits.

Oh wise one, what did God speak of unions? Would Jesus have joined the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America?

They need to stop treating this place like a hospital and pretend that any of these “sexually violent predators” will ever be rehabilitated. It needs to be run like a prison.