Police, Staff Shortage Ominous for California Hospital

ATASCADERO, Calif. – Atascadero State Hospital (ASH) police are faced with personnel shortages, which could lead to a hospital security crisis.

Currently operating 14 short of its full staff of 117 officers, hospital police don’t have the funds to fill positions vacated by officers seeking better wages. ASH is already in the midst of raising pay to address a shortage of clinical staff, which is perceived as more critical. A union survey shows more than 50 percent of officers have applied for jobs with other agencies. According to ASH police, other agencies can offer as much as 40 percent more in salary, making it difficult for ASH to retain its officers.

The increasing number of vacancies on the ASH police force has resulted in cuts to courtyard time for patients. According to both officers and mental health caregivers, outdoor time is vital in psychiatric patients’ stress relief. ASH police are exploring preventive measures to head off any security weaknesses caused by the staff shortage.

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