Hawaii State Hospital shows security measures in place

Published On: Nov 22 2013 06:45:00 PM HST

This is a place where bad thinks sometimes happen.

The Hawaii state hospital houses volatile, mentally ill patients, and sometimes they snap.

Former workers, injured themselves recently said it's time for a fresh look at safety here.

Click here to watch Catherine Cruz' report.

”If we are getting assaulted, who is keeping the patients safe?” said psychiatric technician Kalford Keanu Jr.

Hospital officials tell us, safety starts here.

"I have around the facility, 300 cameras and those are monitored 24 hours a day and seven days a week," said interim administrator William Elliot.

But there are no armed guards. That's mandatory because this is a hospital... Not a prison.

So when there's trouble, protocols in place can conflict with instincts.

"When you see an emergency on the street your natural reaction is to help but we have learned that jumping right in sometimes you will get hurt and it becomes more challenging, said Dr. William Sheehan.

Each worker is provided a mobile device –a kind of panic button that allows the employee to call for help immediately.

So when someone is attacked, the idea is to make sure there is sufficient back-up to intervene.

And there are strict rules for handling patients, more and more of whom are suffering from mental illness and brain damage due to drugs like crystal meth.

The patents have a right to refuse treatment and the hospital has to go to courts to over-ride that and only in extreme situations.

"A person could come here and be psychotic and be in need of medication and cannot have an order to treat and go for a period of time without medication," Sheehan said.



Officials showed us a psychiatric intensive care unit for the most dangerous patients built three years ago.

But it was quickly abandoned just a week after opening, when a staffer was seriously attacked in the isolated unit.

Now, it is used as a general overflow area.


 "We use it for low level female patients and low risk employees. Until we sort out all the safety issues around it we will not use it for the high risk employees" said Elliot.


Rising patient count is also a big concern.

This facility is licensed for 202 patients. On this particular day, the patient census is 195.

 The governor formed a task force to look at how best to manage the population.

In the works: tearing down one of the original buildings which is no longer in use and constructing a new facility--- all part of the state's master plan.


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