The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

October 20, 2011
Slain technician to be remembered at California mental facilities

110325 Safety Now.JPGFamily members of slain hospital employee Donna Gross, state lawmakers and state workers will gather at various locations around California on Sunday to highlight concerns for patient and employee safety at state mental health facilities.

The Safety Now! Coalition is organizing the events at seven state facilities to observe the anniversary of her death at Napa State Hospital. The 54-year-old psychiatric technician from Concord had worked at the hospital for 14 years when she was killed last year by patient Jess Willard Massey.

Massey pleaded no contest and was sentenced in August to 25 years to life.

The killing pushed state hospital safety concerns to the foreground and fueled several Safety Now! demonstrations. It also gave momentum to legislation that streamlines involuntary medication procedures for dangerous patients and another that targets contraband in state hospitals. Gov. Jerry Brown signed both bills into law.

The unions also backed two other measures, neither of which cleared the Legislature. One would have required state hospitals to assess a patient's propensity for violence. The other would have required patients at high risk for aggression or escape to be placed in special units, and would have streamlined procedures for emergency orders for antipsychotic medication.

Sunday's memorial events start at 1:30 p.m. and end at 3:30 p.m., regardless of weather conditions. Here's where the groups will meet:

Atascadero State Hospital (front entrance)
10333 El Camino Real, Atascadero

Fairview Developmental Center (memorial garden)
2501 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa

Coalinga State Hospital (front entrance)
24511 W. Jayne Ave., Coalinga

Metropolitan State Hospital (main entrance)
11401 Bloomfield Ave., Norwalk

Napa State Hospital (front entrance)
2100 Napa-Vallejo Hwy., Napa

Patton State Hospital (administration flagpole)
3102 East Highland Ave., Patton

Porterville Developmental Center (front entrance)
26501 Avenue 140, Porterville

Safety Now! includes the American Federation of State County & Municipal Employees Local 2620, Service Employees International Union Local 1000, the California Association of Psychiatric Technicians, the Union of America Physicians & Dentists and the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association.

IMAGE: Courtesy Safety Now!

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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