State Hospital worker: Scores should be fired after killer's escape

'They're dirty and they know it': Hawaii State Hospital worker speaks out about killer's escape
Published: Nov. 22, 2017 at 12:52 AM HST|Updated: Nov. 22, 2017 at 11:46 AM HST
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KANEOHE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Hawaii State Hospital employee is speaking out about the escape of a psychopathic killer from the facility, saying it underscores the need to "clean house."

Randall Saito slipped away from the hospital on Nov. 12, got a taxi to the airport and took a charter plane to Maui. From there, he caught a flight to California. Authorities arrested him in Stockton last Wednesday.

State Hospital employee Rhoda Palenapa said the corruption at the psychiatric facility is so deeply-rooted, a quarter of the staff should be replaced.

"He could not have done that alone, there's no way he did that alone. There's no way," said Palenapa.

Palenapa, who has been on disciplinary leave since August, said Saito's escape last week was not a surprise. She did not work with Saito but said she has seen other times where hospital workers helped patients leave.

"Absolutely, absolutely. It's easy to help them. It is because who's watching," Palenapa said.

Seven Hawaii State Hospital employees were put on leave without pay last week as authorities investigate why it took 10 hours for personnel to alert the public about Saito's escape.

Palenapa said more workers need to go.

"It should be way more. They have to clean house. If there's 600 staff, at least 150 need to go. At least 150. They're dirty. They're dirty and they know it," she said.

State Sen. Josh Green said he met with hospital staff on Monday and said it was a personnel failure.

"It was a failure of the system to protect our community that someone got out. And they admitted freely it should have been reported much more quickly," said Green. "Several people dropped that ball. They didn't follow the right protocols. They have good protocols at the Hawaii State Hospital, but a few people didn't follow them."

The senator said they need to beef up security on property.

"They have to increase by 50 percent in my opinion, the amount of security on the periphery. That's five full time people in each shift. That would make a big difference, it's extraordinarily unlikely anyone would get out," Green said.

He also recommended completing a new forensic facility by 2020 instead of 2024 and to stop accepting any more dangerous patients until that facility is done.

"I'm asking the governor if necessary to declare an emergency to cut through every bit of red tape to protect the Kaneohe community and all of us across Oahu and the state … if we can finish these sky scrapers here that are condos in a year and a half or if we can finish major courthouses in a year or two years, we should be able to finish a Hawaii State Hospital," he said.

Officials at the Health Department said they appreciate the recommendations.

In addition, they said they are meeting with the Department of Public Safety on Wednesday to evaluate the situation. Plus, they will be participating in a site visit to the Oahu Community Correctional Center to explore other alternative security measures.

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