In the News

A Schizophrenic, a Slain Worker, Troubling Questions

June 16, 2011

By Deborah Sontag

Last November, Yvette Chappell found herself increasingly anxious that her 27-year-old son, Deshawn James Chappell, was spiraling downward into deep psychosis. He was exhibiting intense paranoia and calling late at night to complain about deafening voices in his head.

For over a year, Mr. Chappell, a schizophrenic with a violent criminal record, had seemed relatively stable in a state-financed group home in Charlestown. But after a fight with another resident, Mr. Chappell was shuttled from home to home, and his mother believed that he had fallen off his medication along the way.   (more…)

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Patient Aggression Intensifies at Napa State Hospital

November 3, 2010

By Lee Romney,

Attacks on staffers and patients have increased sharply. State officials pledge to improve security after the killing of a staffer there.

When Napa State Hospital psychiatric technician Donna Gross was strangled last month on the hospital grounds, state officials lamented her death as a tragic and rare event, the first killing of a staffer in two decades.

They pledged to improve security by offering staff members shuttle rides to the parking lot, and they temporarily barred patients from going outside unaccompanied.   (more…)

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Contra Costa Jail Nurse’s Slaying Raises Questions

November 1, 2010

By Henry K. Lee

Cynthia Palomata worked for 15 years as a nurse at San Francisco General Hospital until she injured her back while lifting a patient. After a disability leave, Palomata took a job as a nurse treating inmates at Contra Costa County Jail in Martinez, a move that alarmed her relatives.

Palomata reassured her family, saying, “It’s not dangerous, because we have security around all the time,” according to her aunt, Venus Dioso, 80, of San Francisco.

Now, Dioso is mourning the loss of Palomata, 55, of El Sobrante, who was removed from life support Thursday, three days after she was hit in the head with a lamp, allegedly by a burglary suspect who faked a seizure. The attack at the Martinez jail happened even as sheriff’s deputies were on duty nearby.   (more…)

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