Napa State Hospital Workers Pay Tribute to Slain Colleague

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Workers at Napa State Hospital paid tribute to slain psychiatric technician Donna Gross on the third anniversary of her murder at the hands of a patient. Colleagues laid flowers in her memory at the entrance to the facility which is treating more and more dangerous patients with criminal histories.

She was strangled on the grounds by Jess William Massey, who is now serving a 25-year sentence in state prison.  Her death focused attention on the safety of workers at all state hospitals, and many throughout the state wore black mourning clothes.

Workers now wear high-tech personal security tags which can track a worker’s location on the sprawling complex. It was something that might have prevented Gross’ death.  In addition, a police substation was relocated inside the secure treatment area, which makes for faster access in case of an emergency. Psychiatric teams also now patrol the grounds.

“It really provided I think the shock to the system from the top to the bottom to really take action,” said Assembly member Mariko Yamada, who chairs a select committee that now closely oversees hospital worker safety.

Some co-workers say more needs to be done and complain about staffing levels that do not allow violent patients to be identified for treatment.

“It just hit me as I was laying flowers down … Donna would be just be tickled pink that there are safety issues in place and that she didn’t die in vain,” said Donna’s younger brother Dan Kopache.

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