Justice Department: California Officials Refuse To Cooperate With
Napa State Hospital Investigation
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 29, 2005
SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA--The U.S. Department of Justice has sent a letter to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, notifying him of "widespread and systematic deficiencies" at Napa State Hospital, and complaining of a lack of cooperation by state officials.
Assistant Attorney General Bradley Schlozman sent the 23-page letter, dated June 27, explaining that state officials have repeatedly blocked federal investigators at Napa and two other institutions, saying the federal officials would not have access to the facilities until "sometime in 2006".
"The State's conduct is unusual in this regard," Schlozman noted. He added that such lack of cooperation is one factor than can be considered negatively when investigators draw conclusions about facilities.
"We now draw such an adverse conclusion," he wrote of the institution that houses about 1,100 people and has been in operation since 1875.
Schlozman's report listed problems with patient-on-patient assaults -- including several causing major injuries and one homicide -- which were not prevented because of a lack of adequate supervision. "A number of incidents happened when medically required one-on-one staffing was canceled, apparently not due to clinical decisions, but rather staff shortages," he wrote.
Another major problem is the trafficking of street drugs, such as amphetamines and cocaine, within the facility. Three different Napa residents overdosed on street drugs last fall. One of them died.
The letter also detailed overuse of psychotropic drugs and physical restraints to control patients' behaviors.
One patient was restrained on 20 separate occasions between August 2 and September 21, 2004, for a total of 920 hours, or 75 percent of her actual time in the hospital during that period. One episode was for 369 consecutive hours -- or 15 continuous days.
Federal surveyors witnessed a patient with Down syndrome being held in three-point restraints on September 20, 2004. "Records showed he had been restrained in three or five-point restraints since admission three days earlier. None of the information in his charts suggested any justification for use of restraints," the report noted.
Most recently, in March of this year, one patient hanged himself in a locked bathroom.
"Mental hospital probe shows major problems" (San Francisco Chronicle)
Text: "CRIPA investigation of Napa State Hospital" (U.S. Department of Justice)