Licensed psychiatric technicians rallied in front of California Health Care Facility – Stockton last week demanding increased court-ordered staffing for suicidal inmates.
Waving picket signed emblazoned with “Staffing, Safety and Services,” the psychiatric technicians specifically are seeking additional employees on CHCF-Stockton’s Mental Health Crisis Unit.
The unit – geared to serve inmates experiencing suicidal distress – currently is staffed with only two psychiatric technicians. One who distributes all the prescriptions and is not allowed to leave the medication room, and another that is charged with checking on and counseling all of the inmates on the football-field-sized unit, providing laundry services, meal trays and their other needs.
The severity of the psychiatric technicians’ workload has led the managers to pressure employees into falsifying suicide checks that have not been done in a timely fashion.
Union activists and representatives have been warning Federal Prison Receiver J. Clark Kelso and his nursing management for months about staffing concerns at the state-of-the-art Stockton facility, which has only been open a year.
The receivership has not responded – to date – to union requests to add at least one more psychiatric technician on the unit to better help in crisis. In addition, a July report done for the receiver by CPS HR Consulting made the exact same staffing recommendations for the Mental Health Crisis Unit that CAPT representatives did.
“We’re at this facility to help uphold the Receiver’s ‘constitutional level of care’ for inmates with severe mental illnesses,” said CAPT Corrections Chapter President Jennifer Are, PT. “But we can’t help those in need if the Receiver won’t give us the staff we need to help them.”
CAPT’s board of directors – which includes psychiatric technicians from state hospitals, developmental centers and prisons across California – voted in favor of holding the informational picket, and several psychiatric technicians from other state facilities joined their coworkers at CHCF-Stockton to show support.