Mental facility where patient escaped earns reaccreditation

HONOLULU — The Hawaii State Hospital earned reaccreditation nearly two months after a high-profile patient escaped from the facility.

The Joint Commission, an independent health care organization, accredited the facility for compliance with performance standards that ensure safe and effective patient care.

The commission’s review included on-site observations, interviews and an evaluation of compliance with hospital standards. The accreditation is valid for the next three years.

“Hawaii State Hospital voluntarily participates in these surveys conducted by The Joint Commission to identify ways we can continue to improve the care we provide for our patients,” said William May, Hawaii State Hospital administrator. “While there have been recent incidents that may have raised concerns about our commitment to excellence, this accreditation validates that the hospital staff places a high priority on quality care.”

There have been at least 17 escapes from the hospital since 2010.

The latest escape was by Randall Saito, who was able to leave the hospital and board planes to Maui and then to California, where he was arrested.

“It was a major breakdown in our Hawaii State Hospital protocols, procedures and guidelines,” Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Pressler said. “In this case, there was fault on our side and we’re doing what we can to address the issues that allowed that to happen.”

Saito, who was acquitted for a 1979 murder by reason of insanity, said the way he was treated at the facility is what made him want to escape.

The hospital has 202 beds and provides psychiatric and other services for court-ordered individuals. A new facility is being built.

“We anticipate the construction of our new, 144-bed forensic facility, which is targeted for completion in 2020, will further enhance our ability to deliver effective care for the forensic patients, who we are required to admit to our facility by court orders and create a safer work environment for our employees,” May said.


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