Recently, Diana Dooley, who is the California Health and Human Services Secretary, announced the lifting of the hiring freeze that as troubled state mental hospitals amid rising concerns of violence.
Ms. Dooley’s decision came following an uncommon visit to the Napa State Hospital. The recent death of a Napa patient prompted the trip. The hospital has $100,000 fines levied against it by Cal/OSHA for alleged systemic failings, which contributed to the slaying of a psychiatric technician just months earlier.
Appointed by Governor Jerry Brown, Diana Dooley claims to be working to make sense of the complicated issues plaguing California’s five mental facilities. Over eighty percent of the patients at these hospitals have been convicted or accused of crimes. In addition, a growing number of these patients have predatory tendencies.
Help Wanted for Mental Hospitals
In spite of California’s severe budget crisis, Diana Dooley said, “I made the decision this week that there are real needs in the state hospitals, and we need to refill positions.” This action will make an exception to a statewide hiring freeze that had been placed on vacant positions that were the result of an executive order by Brown back in February.
Cindy Radavsky is the deputy director for long-term care services for the California Department of Mental Health, which is overseen by Diana Dooley. Radavsky says she intends to fill around twenty-five positions quickly with clinical staffers and hospital police officers in Napa with responsibilities for direct patient care.
Radavsky had only praise for Dooley saying, “Her advocacy is extremely appreciated.” Dooley spent several hours at the hospital, meeting privately with union stewards as well as other employees.
Dooley says that she has been working with the Department of Mental Health sifting through strategies to better assess the patients’ inclination for violence, administering proper treatment and moving patients so that the facilities that are less secure will house the patients that are less violent.
photo credit: GoTRISI