State launches investigation in Napa hospital murder

December 6, 2010 7:29:00 PM PST
The California Department of Public Health has launched an investigation into the October murder of psych tech Donna Gross. Representatives from the Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program met last week with the union which represents nurses at Napa State Hospital.

"They've heard what's going on; security here is nonexistent and they want to make sure no more fatalities occur," SEIU Local 1000 representative Mindy Musch said.

Musch recently took a tour of the forensics unit, the section which houses the criminally insane and most violent patients.

"My very first walk through, I was assaulted by one of the individuals," she said.

The grounds of the forensics section of Napa State Hospital is also where patient Jess Massey strangled Gross. ABC7 has learned that Massey failed a contraband drug test a week or so before the murder but he was still given a grounds pass which allowed him to roam around freely.

Mary Hall has been a nurse at Napa State Hospital for the past four years. Monday, she and other staff spoke to administrators on their request to take their last names off their badges. Workers say it puts them and their families at risk.

"There have been staff who have been contacted by patients because they had enough information about the employees and were able to contact them," Hall said.

Hospital officials again declined ABC7's request for an interview, but wrote in an e-mail, "There is intense focus being given to all areas of security."

The hospital is now recruiting psych techs to patrol the vast grounds of the forensics section. Many object to the plan.

"We don't have the training, we don't have the means, we're not police officers, we're here to give treatment, we're here to pass medications, we're here to be therapeutic," psych tech Crystal Johnson said.

There is some good news from Sacramento for the workers at Napa State Hospital. Assm. Mary Hayashi, D-Hayward, has introduced a bill that would put more teeth into the violence prevention and security plans of state mental hospitals like Napa.


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