Wednesday, February 3, 2016

LCC Not Satisfied With Children's Hospital Emergency Response Protocol Document Recently Released Following Psychiatric Patient September Escape As Schools Not Notified Among Other Lingering Worries

site of incident last September
of home break-in
committed by escaped
Children's Hospital psychiatric patient

A Children's Hospital psychiatric patient escaped from the hospital last September when the power failed and he proceeded to be able to leave the hospital and walk into the neighborhood, breaking into a home in the 4300 block of 53rd Avenue NE and barricading himself in there for almost five hours.

As the Laurelhurst Blog reported, the teen-age patient finally came out of the home when his mother arrived and reportedly asked him to come out. The owners of the home where the patient broke in had left the house for one hour to go grocery shopping and returned to find the ordeal happening in their home.

This incident, turned more serious when it was learned, that weapons were possibly in the home, resulting in about four SWAT vehicles racing to the affected area blocking it off and not allowing residents to return to their homes for many hours.

Nearby families and those with children at the neighborhood schools were alarmed to learn that the initial call from the Hospital to the Police did not get broadcast over the Police scanner so that Public School District Security who monitor activity around public schools was not able to inform the Principal at Laurelhurst Elementary School. And Villa Academy reportedly found out about the incident from a parent.  
The Blog Staff received many emails following the ordeal, asking what types of psychiatric patients are housed at the hospital , why the nearby schools weren't notified to go into a lock-down and why the Hospital security staff was not authorized to apprehend the escapee?

A resident, who was directly affected by the incident,  worried what might have happened if the house had been occupied at the time of the invasion, and whether this incident could have ended tragically.   

She added:
Incredibly, Hospital staff just watched as the escapee entered the back yard to break into the house, and did nothing to prevent it. What if the escapee had then attacked the occupants?  Would they just stand by and also let that happen?  

If the Hospital is going to expose the surrounding community to this type of risk, they need to employ security staff who are trained and authorized to prevent crimes and fully protect the community when potentially dangerous patients escape from their custody.
Last November, the Laurelhurst Community Club (LCC) were able to finally meet with  representatives from the Hospital including Todd Johnson, Vice President, Facilities and Supply Chain, as well as several Public Relations and Community outreach people and two Psychiatric Department doctors. 

The three LCC attendees asked for the facts of the incident and to learn about their emergency protocols. 

LCC provided this meeting summary to the Laurelhurst Blog Staff:

Right during and after the incident at the Hospital, LCC activated our 'standing committee" that was required by both entities in the Settlement  Agreement, and requested a meeting on emergency protocols.

At the meeting we did obtain the facts, and with that, we expressed serious concern for lack of information given to local schools, supposedly via the Seattle Police. 
LCC suggested a more direct response to the two nearby schools,  at a minimum directly from the Hospital. The Hospital said they "would get back to LCC."  The schools denied that any contact  was made at the time of the incident.

In January the Hospital sent LCC the general information (pasted below) regarding the special unit and protocol. 
LCC believes this explanation is not acceptable as it does not address the need for immediately notification from the Hospital, but rather solely from the Police.

LCC formally asked both Schools what is the most effective method for the Hospital to notify them so that LCC can draft an inclusive letter to the Hospital from the community.   
Villa responded right away, but the Principal at Laurelhurst Elementary has yet to respond to LCC with a formal response.  LCC can’t understand the delay with the Laurelhurst principal with such a serious matter and tasked with keeping her students and staff safe.  
Because of this delay, the formal  LCC response to the Hospital is held up due to the Principal's non-response and LCC has given her another 2 week deadline.  "Let's hope the principal replies," LCC told the Blog Staff.  
Thus, it may take until the end of February to have both a response from the school and then to hear back from the Hospital.  
If not, LCC will draft a letter  without the School's input as we are not satisfied at all with The Hospital "emergency response" which just bumps it to the Seattle Police, which is very understaffed, especially in NE Seattle.

Here is the information posted in the most recent Laurelhurst Community Club (LCC) Newsletter:

Emergency Protocol at Children’s Clarified
After the alarming September incident where a psychiatric patient left the hospital and broke into a home, LCC met with Children’s representatives and asked them to clarify their protocol for dealing with this type of emergency. While this is still a work in progress and LCC will provide more feedback, Todd Johnson and Children’s staff updated the protocol, the highlights of which follow, as well as an explanation of their Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Unit.  
LCC strongly advocates that the protocol include notifying LCC and nearby schools of any breach of security or serious incident that could impact the neighborhood. 
Here is the information LCC and the Laurelhurst Blog Staff received from Children's Hospital: 
Seattle Children’s Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Unit (PBMU) is a 41-bed, acute care psychiatric facility providing care for children and adolescents throughout the Pacific Northwest. PBMU staff and providers evaluate and provide inpatient treatment for children ages 4 – 18 who have emotional, behavioral and neuropsychiatric disorders. Young adults (up to age 21) who have developmental disabilities may also be considered for admission. 
The PBMU is not a juvenile correctional facility and does not offer forensic services. Youth who have or are suspected of committing violent crimes, and/or are in need of forensic or competency evaluations, are not admitted to Seattle Children’s PBMU. These youth are served by the state of Washington in state-run facilities (e.g., Child Study and Treatment Center and Echo-Glen Children’s Center).  
Some of the more common reasons for admission to the unit include mood and anxiety disorders, suicidality, disruptive behavior disorders, eating disorders (e.g., anorexia/bulimia), and autism. The PBMU is also invested in treating children with unique medical problems. Youth may be admitted on a voluntary or involuntary basis. 
The model of care in the PBMU emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach to evaluation and treatment, and care includes helping patients build appropriate skills, providing support and education for parents, medication evaluation and adjustment, connection to community resources, and medical nursing services as needed.   
The PBMU environment is highly structured. Daily activities include group therapy and an educational program where patients engage in academic schoolwork The average length of stay in the PBMU is about a week. The vast majority of children and youth served on the PBMU return home and immediately reintegrate back into outpatient care and community school settings. 
What steps are typically taken and what additional steps will be taken when a patient leaves hospital grounds?
When any patient under medical supervision leaves hospital grounds, a Code Pink is called. Outlined below is our Code Pink Protocol:
  1. A Code Pink is called as soon as the patient has left property.
  1. Security Services will call 911 immediately once a patient has left campus.  The Seattle police assume primary responsibility of patient safety and recovery once the patient has left campus.
  1. Security Services will attempt to keep the patient in sight at all times to help insure their safety and to serve as a location support for the Seattle police.
  1. Security officers and Code Purple team responders will attempt to de-escalate the patient and gain their cooperation in returning to main campus.
  1. Security officers will and have physically intervened and restrained patients who attempted to walk/run into crowded streets.
  1. As a result of the September 28th, 2015 incident, officers have been advised to consider physical restraint and intervention should a patient appear to be attempting entry into a private dwelling/private residence.
Q and A
Q: So Seattle Children’s security staff will call 911 once a patient has left campus?
A: Yes – this to obtain optimum support and to keep the patient safe.
Q: Security team members will have the discretion to restrain a patient should said patient appear to be attempting entry into a private dwelling?
A: Yes – officers may choose to intervene physically.
Q: Will the Seattle police assume primary responsibility in taking the lead once a patient has left the hospital campus?
A: Yes
What are Seattle Children’s protocols for ensuring doors remain locked and /or are monitored during fire testing, actual fires or other catastrophic events?
If the fire/life safety system “thinks” there’s a fire (as signaled by the operation of a pull station, smoke detector, or water flowing through a sprinkler head), then alarm/strobes will sound and the doors will unlock.   We mitigate against false alarms by placing pull stations inside of secure staff-only areas and employ a dual action sprinkler system.
If there is a fire drill in which the pull station is activated, then the doors open as previously described.
If there is a power loss, the access control system is powered by the emergency generators.  When transitioning from city power to generator the battery backup for the access control boards and locks will keep the doors locked.  The auto operators would not work during this transition time, but the magnets will continue to hold.
If there is a seismic event, the doors remain locked unless a pull station or sprinkler head is activated.
If there is a “Code Grey” (Bomb Threat) or other emergency, the doors remain locked unless a pull station is activated.


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