Unsafe, sometimes painful and terrifying work conditions at the Hawaii State Hospital are coming to light.
Health officials under subpoena described some of the punishment inflicted by the worst of the worst inmates housed in Kaneohe.
“The most serious injury was the injury that resulted in a significant number of suturing on the face of an injury,” said Lynn Fallin, Deputy Director of the Behavioral Health Administration.
Fallin described some of the extreme injuries that have happened on the job at the Hawaii State hospital. She told the Special Investigative Committee broken bones and skull fractures are on that list too.
She also says since 2011 she has received reports of 20 assaults against workers that required hospitalization. Patients there are among the worst of the worst.
“I see one of the issues as the balance that has to be struck between the patients’ right to a less restrictive environment and then the safety of the employees who interface with them,” said Department of Health Director Linda Rosen.
Another major issue is the working hours. Some workers have logged more than 1,000 hours of overtime in a year. That is roughly 20 hours a week of overtime.
Fallin says the hospital needs to meet staffing ratios and vacancies plus sick time equal massive overtime.
“We do call in people for overtime and the cap is to try and set something reasonable,” said Fallin.
The reasonable amount she says is controlled by the state's own wellness policy.
“There’s some belief in some kind of policy they developed when they had deputy director Fallin admitted. It was a draft. She was very evasive in my opinion,” said Hawaii State Senator Clayton Hee.
The federal government sued the state in 1991 leading to a settlement to better manage overtime at the state hospital. Fallin says those terms were never implemented.
The meeting is recessed and will continue on Apr. 9 at 10 a.m.