Professional Psych Staff fear retaliation at CDCR for testifying to the truth

Note:  CDCR Mental Health medical professionals fear retaliation for telling the truth about the poor availability of care, living conditions, and thus quality of care in CA prisons.  Why are we using our prisons as mental health facilities in CA anyway?

Merriam Websters dictionary defines Retaliation as: to repay (as an injury) in kind, to get revenge.

Related Words:

castigate, fix, get, penalize, punish, scourge; chasten, chastise, correct, discipline; right; compensate, pay (back), recompense, repay.

Anyone who has a loved one doing time inside the Green Walls of CDC, knows of retaliation. Having either heard the horror stories and/or lived through the horror. And horror it is. From Correction Officers, Counselors  to Assistant Wardens/Wardens, even medical staff- sometimes top dog medical staff-retaliation is rife with in CDCR. The following article is just the start. I promise you there will be more I will be exposing. There will be no names included of course, to protect those that must be protected. Its time to blow CDCR wide open.

Salinas Valley prison psychiatrist says mental health hospital suffering

Testimony contradicts state’s case to court

A doctor from Salinas Valley State Prison‘s once state-of-the-art psychiatric hospital has contradicted California’s assurances to federal judges that mentally ill inmates no longer have to wait for hospital beds.

Dr. John Brim said in a recent sworn deposition that waiting lists for the beds still exist and hospital supervisors are pressuring psychiatrists to shuffle patients out of mental health crisis beds before they are ready to keep waiting list numbers down.

Brim said prison officials have cut back on soap, clean sheets and other essentials. His deposition was taken March 1 as part of two decadelong inmate lawsuits. The class-action suits led to creation of the Salinas Valley mental health facility as well as a Supreme Court order to drastically reduce California’s prison population on the grounds that overcrowding has hindered proper medical and mental health care.

Decrying heavy caseloads and staff shortages, Brim testified the Salinas Valley prison’s mental health unit had a waiting list of about 20 patients.

His statements contradict January court filings by Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration that say patients no longer have to wait for mental health beds in the state’s prisons.

“By July 2012, the state had successfully guaranteed timely access to inpatient mental health care for all class members needing hospitalization,” Brown’s filing reads.

Another document filed by the state in January said California now provides “timely access to

quality mental health treatment at all levels of care.”But Brim suggested psychiatrists are under pressure to try to keep the waiting lists low, even at the cost of patient care.

“There was a general feeling, and I felt this way, that we were under pressure from administration to move the old people out, the old patients out, and take in new patients so as to keep our waiting list down,” he said.

All of the unit’s psychiatrists, he said, “felt that it was getting to the point that people were not staying, in all cases at least, as long as they needed to. There was pressure from administration to get them out quickly so that new people could be brought in.”

Once touted as state of the art, the facility now suffers from excessive doctor caseloads that are four times the state’s preferred standard, Brim testified.

The prison hospital is run by the California Department of State Hospitals, which provides crisis beds for maximum-security inmates with severe mental illness.

Officials from the department did not respond Thursday to requests for comment.

In 2006, when corrections officials announced the prison hospital’s launch in response to federal court orders, the $111 million facility brought the promise of improved mental health care and an infusion of jobs to the area. But Brim said that in addition to psychiatrist shortages, the hospital is short on other kinds of staff, including social workers, psychologists, nurses and rehabilitation therapists.

The hospital’s social workers, he said, recently expressed concern because “they were stretched so thin.”

Brim testified hospital staff members say the unit is short on soap, clean sheets and clothes, and other essentials for hygiene. The staff blame the prison’s laundry for the shortages, Brim said.

In January and in February, psychiatrists at the prison, one of two in Soledad, told state officials the staffing shortage at the facility’s mental health wing has reached “crisis level.”

“We cannot in good conscience continue to take on a higher and higher caseload without making you aware of our concerns,” said a Jan. 23 letter signed by nine psychiatrists at the facility. “We need to inform you that we will be working under a state of protest.”

Earlier this month, Department of State Hospital officials told The Herald that replacement staff had been hired and some psychiatrists who were expected to leave will not.

“There is currently no anticipated staffing crisis at DSH-Salinas Valley,” said David O’Brien, speaking for the department in Sacramento.

Brim said he testified because he and other psychiatrists felt it was important to speak up about the hospital’s conditions, although he indicated that some doctors at the prison appeared fearful of professional retaliation if they testified under oath.

“Many of my colleagues expressed considerable apprehension about being singled out to give testimony, and they pointed out to me that I had sort of reached the end of my working life expectancy, (and) didn’t have a whole lot to lose,” he said. “And I agreed that they were probably right about that.”

Via Monterey Herald


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