2 Investigates: Is John George Psychiatric Hospital working on improvements?
SAN LEANDRO, Calif. (KTVU) - New undercover video obtained by 2 Investigates shows conditions have not changed much at the John George psychiatric emergency room in San Leandro.
Video shot several weeks after our first report last May showed similar overcrowding with patients sleeping on the floor.
Majenta Robinson tells KTVU that was her experience there a couple of months ago. She says she didn't even have a blanket or pillow.
"No. On the floor because all the mattresses were taken up".
Robinson says she got no medical or psychiatric help in the time she was there.
"All I did with John George was spend the night and get some pills stuffed down my mouth. I was uncomfortable. I was scared to use the bathroom. You have men there that follow around the women and talk about how pretty they was. It was unsafe."
A John George psychiatrist contacted 2 Investigates, also saying conditions have not changed.
"We've all seen fights break out and staff having to wrestle with patients and take them down and medicate them and restrain them when they get violent"
He asked we shield his identity, fearful of retaliation from John George administrators.
"I saw that the administration portrayed it as though when it gets really crowded they really scrambled to deescalate it when that's not been the feeling of the doctors. We feel that we as a group we are the ones that scramble and work extra hard to deescalate"
Staff members say their numbers show just how overcrowded the facility has been with patient visits climbing from 9,600 to 16,000 in the last eight years. They also say there are times when the patient to doctor ratio is as high as 70 to one.
John George officials sharply dispute those numbers, providing their own data that shows it operates with a four to one ratio at least 90 percent of the time.
The state Department of Health Care Services began looking into conditions at John George after our first 2 Investigates report last May. That investigation is still on going.
But at a recent court hearing held in Hayward, Gilbert Tse, an attorney for Alameda Health System, which oversees John George, revealed steps are finally being taken to add more doctors.
"With this increased patient census there is a significant number of unfilled shifts every month as late as May 24 in 2016. The June schedule had nearly 40 unfilled shifts," Tse told the judge.
Tse said John George will hire an outside contractor to add more doctors to reduce overcrowding.
"There's really no choice for AHS for patient safety and for the safety of its employees but to contract out some of those services."
Some staff members are crying foul saying administrators aren't as interested in safety as they are muzzling union doctors and nurses from speaking out about the conditions.
Dr. David Schatz is a John George staff psychiatrist.
"They've been trying to do this for two years and create this crisis. AHS themselves is the reason all these patients are suffering you've seen on the videos and then they try to use that as an argument to justify what's going on."
KTVU has sought interviews with John George officials, having lengthy phone and e-mail conversations with Vintage Foster who represents the hospital.
Foster said that KTVU got it wrong in its story when we reported that a patient, Jason Morton, disappeared after being released wearing a hospital gown.
Foster says the hospital only releases patients in hospital scrubs if they refuse to wear their own clothes. But to Morton's brother, Ryan, the difference in clothing is inconsequential.
"They held him for a couple of days and then released him in a hospital gown in 60 degree weather all because they state, well the patient has the right to leave whenever they're going to leave."
KTVU invited Foster and AHS officials to go on camera to address their concerns about our first report and still seeks answers, two months later, about unsafe conditions and why patients are still sleeping and eating on the floor.
Majenta Robinson told KTVU her experience there was horrifying.
"I don't know who I was in there with, what their criminal background might have been. I could have been there with rapists, anybody."
Foster also did not want to respond to our questions about a sexual assault that was reported at John George last May.
Alameda County Sheriff's deputies were called to investigate a reported rape inside the facility.
KTVU obtained an incident report that shows deputies could not determine whether the sex between two patients was consensual or not.
We learned last week the District Attorney's office decided not to file charges in the case.
We wanted to ask John George, even if the sex was consensual, how could that happen inside a facility filled with mentally and emotionally imbalanced patients who are supposed to be monitored?
In rejecting our interview request Foster wrote "...John George has grave concerns about KTVU's interest in covering John George psychiatric hospital in an accurate, fair and balanced manner."
John George hasn't denied that people are sleeping on the floor and that there has been violence inside the facility, yet it hasn't given detailed answers to those questions.
They also wanted to clarify that a hospital "scrub" is not the same thing as a hospital "gown".
Foster also wants our viewers to understand that John George has an automated system that notifies the patient's case worker when they are released.
KTVU awaits an explanation as to why patients and staff are dealing with the conditions shown in the video.