ESH employees hold rally calling for more staff, safety changes at the facility

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by Shawn Chitnis & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on May 11, 2012 at 6:18 PM

Updated Friday, May 11 at 6:32 PM

MEDICAL LAKE--Employees at Eastern State Hospital rallied outside the building Friday calling for more staffing at the facility.

Both employees and the DSHS agree the job of working at a state hospital is dangerous, but they differ on how serious the need for change is given recent injuries and deaths around Washington.

A couple dozen Eastern State Hospital workers and other members of their union met outside the hospital Friday afternoon to call attention to their trouble working inside the building.

The rally comes after both patients and staff have been injured or killed while inside hospitals in other parts of the state.

DSHS said in a statement, they recognize employees' rights to speak out about the issue.  "The safety of patients, staff and the community is our top priority. We realize that working in a state psychiatric hospital can sometimes be a dangerous job and we have the highest regard for our employees who have chosen to serve others through this very necessary work."
 
DSHS went on to say in its statement that it uses special training for its employees to prevent anyone from getting hurt.  "In recent years, our state's psychiatric hospitals have embraced a culture of safety approach that has brought practice improvements and has resulted in reductions in staff and patient injuries."

People at the rally said improving the current system for when employees call in sick and someone is on-call would be a big first step to help keep everyone safe.
 

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