Regarding the July 16 Focus article “Attacks at hospitals will be felonies”: The new law making any attack on hospital personnel a felony is a misguided attempt at a solution to a problem that the legislature itself created when it began the process of dismantling, privatizing and defunding our mental health system.
The fact that mental health patients must wait days and days for a psychiatric bed while in crisis mode is inexcusable and places patients, their families and hospital staff alike in an untenable position.
General care hospitals are not equipped to serve as “holding tanks” for mental health patients waiting for placement at a facility that can actually treat them. Funding new psychiatric beds will do much more to address the very real safety concerns of hospital staff than the “Band-Aid” approach of stiffer criminal penalties.
In the interim, if the General Assembly is truly concerned about the safety of hospital workers, it should mandate the continuous presence of one CIT-trained safety officer for every three mental health patients awaiting placement. Would that be costly? You bet.
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We are only now beginning to understand and appreciate the very real costs that prior “reform” efforts have spawned.