Opinion » Letters

You nailed the anger and frustration

Atascadero State Hospital



ASH treats mentally ill violent felons. It takes a psychological toll to face this violence daily without the support from those who make and implement policy. Managements’ attitude is best summed up by Jon DeMorales’s “I think some of our employees like to brag about how big our place is and how dangerous our place is” (“A history of violence,” Dec. 2). Mr. DeMorales, it is a big and dangerous place.

Time and again, I hear “staff safety is our No. 1 concern.” I disagree. The majority of the day licensed staff members are implementing the policies of the “Wellness and Recovery” El-Sabaawi money grab. An environment of fear and intimidation is felt while new policies are implemented with utter disregard for legality or consequence.

Mr. DeMorales admits that assaults have substantially increased, explaining it away with admission figures and length-of-stay numbers. The failure of management to realize the increase in violence dooms employees to be assaulted. It is both unnecessary and unacceptable. Many individuals attend groups located throughout the hospital. Unit staff provide coverage, often working below acceptable staffing minimums. Those who are too sick or too dangerous stay on their home units where two or three staff members supervise and treat 30 or more individuals. This creates a volatile and unsafe situation for both the staff and the individuals served.

The disconnect between management and staff is amplified by DeMorales’ statement: “It is hard to implement change in a state facility that is so heavily unionized.” I again disagree.

According to ASH’s own intranet homepage, “We achieved substantial compliance overall” and “our facility is the best in the state, and many aspects of our program are the best in the United States of America.” Change has happened, and this has nothing to do with being unionized.

Colin Rigley nailed it when he wrote of staff’s distrust, anger, and frustration. Statements, such as DMH Director Mayberg’s, only promote this feeling among the level of care. Somebody’s mother, daughter, wife, husband, dad, brother is going to be assaulted, possibly killed while the Maybergs and DeMoraleses refuse to act.

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