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Workers Protest Reform Pace At Napa State Hospital

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Napa State Hospital Entrance (California Department of Mental Health website)

The entrance to Napa State Hospital. (California Department of Mental Health)

CBS SF Bay (con't)

Affordable Care Act Updates: CBSSanFrancisco.com/ACA

Health News & Information: CBSSanFrancisco.com/Health

NAPA (CBS / AP) — Psychiatric workers at Napa State Hospital protested Monday against the slow pace of reform following the killing of a nurse last year and subsequent assaults on colleagues.

The protest outside the main entrance coincided with a meeting on hospital grounds by the state Department of Mental Health to discuss responses to violence at the hospital.

Sue Wilson, a spokeswoman for the coalition of four unions represented at the protest, said workers want officials to stop talking and start implementing reforms proposed by the union.

“We’re not going to participate in more of this bureaucracy,” she said.

The proposals include alarm systems, more security, fenced-off areas, increased staffing and other changes that workers say have been on the table for five months.

Department spokeswoman Jennifer Turner said several reforms have been implemented, including individual alarms for every employee.

“First and foremost, we’re disappointed that the unions … have chosen not to participate,” Turner said.

Patient Jess Massey, 37, pleaded not guilty to murder and robbery after 54-year-old Donna Grossto was strangled in October and her money and jewelry were stolen. Her body was found on an outside patio at the hospital.

Another patient is facing charges of sexual battery and attempted rape in the attack of a female employee earlier this month. A third patient is accused of beating a rehabilitation therapist unconscious in December.

Workers at the hospital suffered 124 attacks in 2010 that required medical attention, though the December assault appears to be the only act of aggression that led to hospitalization, according to statistics supplied by the workers coalition.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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