By: Rick Blangiardi
Our investigative reporter Keoki Kerr has exposed numerous flaws at the Hawaii state hospital and last week the state labor department confirmed what we already knew: the hospital failed to protect its employees from assault.
For example, the investigation found that some employees failed to respond to panic alarms activated when patients or staff are being assaulted.
He also found that many employees did not understand how to deal with dangerous mental patients and that practice drills and training were far from adequate to help employees deal with unstable patients.
We originally found last November that assaults were happening about once every three days. We spoke to staffers who were out of work for weeks, months or even years after being assaulted by patients. There are also allegations of nepotism at the hospital.
The labor department has assessed $33,000 in fines for the violations, but that is minor considering the money to pay the fines comes from the state and then goes back to the state.
We need to get our house in order because the people who work with the mentally ill need to be protected with all the resources we can give them.