Wednesday, January 06, 2010
Disappeared Hawaii State Hospital patient still endangers public
by Larry Geller
David True Seal, a 30-year-old accused child molester, walked out of the Hawaii State Hospital on December 3, 2009, more than one month ago. According to the Department of Health, he’s still out there someplace today.
Although his picture appeared in the media at the time, the story has since disappeared. Questions about whether his escape is related to Lingle administration budget cutbacks still remain.
Seal is one of seven escapees from the State Hospital in 2009. The others have been recovered. He was charged with sexual assault and kidnapping in 2001 and was acquitted by reason of insanity. He is considered dangerous and news reports advised the public not to approach the man, and to call police.
Escape related to budget cuts?
The Hawaii State Hospital suffered budget cuts that may have compromised safety and security. According to a newspaper report following the escape:
"The cutbacks at the hospital have exacerbated an already explosive ongoing situation," said Sen. Clayton Hee. "Unfortunately, the response of the administration is such that the health and safety of the workers at the State Hospital, the other patients at the hospital, and most importantly the community has been compromised." [Star-Bulletin, Budget cuts led to escape, senator says, 12/6/2009]
The article noted that there was also an incident at the hospital the same day Seal escaped, resulting in injuries to staff members.
The census at the hospital was 203 patients, the maximum allowed, but the state had cut back staffing. The cuts included guards with the Department of Public Safety. Private guards were hired, but they don’t have the authority to recover an escapee.
A KHON report noted that
…on October 21st HGEA filed a grievance on behalf of hospital staff who say there is not enough workers because of cuts and furloughs. [KHON, Hospital Patient Escape Raises Security Concerns, 12/4/2009]
The same article began
Employees who asked to remain anonymous says the State hospital is over capacity and under staffed.
Staffing levels were part of the federal lawsuit against Hawaii
On Dec. 10, 2004, US District Judge David Ezra dismissed a 13-year-long federal civil rights case against the Hawaii State Hospital. Court supervision of the state’s plan for community services was extended until June 30, 2006. In 2009, the state drastically curtailed community services and apparently reduced staffing at the hospital.
The suit resulted from a 1989 investigation by the federal Dept. of Justice of violations of the Civil Rights of Institutionalized
Persons Act (CRIPA). Part of the suit charged that hospital staffing levels weren’t adequate to provide effective care.
A plan was approved that ultimately led to the 2004 dismissal of the suit. The “Plan for Community Mental Health Services,” was intended to integrate community-based with hospital-based services. In 2008/2009, administration budget cuts decimated community services. The Adult Mental Health Division cancelled programs including outpatient treatment and community-based intervention. It reduced its caseload 30% by cutting hours allotted to each consumer.
Thank you Larry! This man is still out there, possibly preying on the children in our community.
A Kailua Mom
Good information.i worked there about a decade ago.The staff were better trained although below the number needed especially on the Adult Admissions ward.it is much more dangerous there than the usual State or Government hospitals.