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May 16, 2012
More Citations Issued to Mental Health Department

Cal/OSHA has cited the state Department of Mental Health (DMH) for dangerous conditions at Coalinga State Hospital, which specializes in the treatment of sexually violent predators.

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The agency issued two serious citations for inadequate alarm procedures and ineffective assault-prevention programs. Coalinga is the last of five DMH hospitals to be cited.

“We’ve been trying to get these problems addressed for years, but Coalinga and DMH administrators have ignored us,” said Juan Nolasco, a psychiatric technician at the hospital.

“We can’t tolerate another assault or injury, either to an employee or a patient. Does someone have to die here to get them to listen?” he added. In 2010 psychiatric technician Donna Gross was murdered at Napa State Hospital by a patient.

According to a press release by the California Association of Psychiatric Technicians, DMH is expected to appeal the findings, as it has done for other hospitals cited.

The employee association is also concerned that DMH continues to lay off treatment professionals “whose work helps keep patients and facilities safe.”

California assembly member Michael Allen has introduced legislation that would maintain current treatment-staff levels and stop layoffs.

Another bill he sponsored would require DMH to implement safety programs called for in the Cal/OSHA citations.

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