Two state lawmakers tour Napa State Hospital

December 23, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
There is new scrutiny of Napa State Hospital after a deadly attack and a harsh assessment from two state lawmakers who toured the facility Thursday.

The hospital has been on lockdown since the murder of psychiatric technician Donna Gross in October. A patient has been charged in the case.

ABC7 has been documenting the complaints and problems at Napa State Hospital for several years. During that time, administrators have been guarded and not always responsive.

Napa State Hospital administrators would not allow ABC7 inside or even on the grounds to see what happened behind locked doors Thursday morning. But, there were two visitors they could not turn away, Assm. Michael Allen, D-Napa/Sonoma, and state Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa.

"My reaction is it is indefensible, I am furious about it, we should not be putting people in this kind of jeopardy," Evans said.

Their visit Thursday was in response to the increase in assaults against staff members by violent patients.

"They are prison mentality, they should not be here," nurse Maj Yazidi said.

Last October, a patient beat and killed 54-year-old Donna Gross. And there have been more attacks, since. Nurses and technicians have gone on record saying they fear for their lives.

Thursday, staffers told ABC7 police were there, but only for the visit. They describe what the politicians saw Thursday morning, as much being better than reality.

"It's make believe," one anonymous staff member said.

"They should have gone to the actual units where there are issues with safety," hospital technician Rosa Sanchez Desoto said.

Allen and Evans see the hospital as a victim of budget cuts. They will be back to hear more from everyone.

"If we want these kinds of facilities, we should not be putting people in jeopardy," Evans said.

"When you work in a place like that and have injuries and fatalities, you want to fix it as quickly as possible," Allen said.

ABC7 did ask to speak with hospital administrators, today, but they declined, as they have in the past.

Dr. Stephen Mayberg announced his retirement Thursday. Since 1993, he has run the California Department of Mental Health, which includes Napa State Hospital. The staffers blame him for many of their problems.