The Department of Health is taking additional steps to boost security at Hawaii State Hospital.
We found on the state procurement’s website that a contract has been awarded to install bars over windows of two buildings on the property.
That bid was put out just days after Allen Pitts escaped the state hospital by breaking a window.
Hospital officials told us then that it was reviewing the situation and security measures to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
According to a department spokeswoman:
Hospital staff will install the security grills on buildings E and I after they are fabricated and delivered. There will be no impact on egress from either building. It is unknown whether previous administrators considered this before. The current administrator does not recall this being considered prior to this time.
A timeline has yet to be set for the installation.
The bid is to have security grills installed on at least 70 windows of two different buildings in the hospital.
The state said this wasn’t due to any one incident, but is always looking for ways to heighten security. In a statement the Department of Health said, “For a long time now the hospital has struggled with overcrowded conditions and an aging facility that was not built for the patients now being served…We look forward to the construction of a new facility with clear lines of sight and improved technology to increase safety for patients, staff persons, and the community.”
Mo Radke, a member of the Kaneohe neighborhood board was asked about the community’s feelings on safety at the state hospital. “If that keeps people inside the confines of the state hospital and I think it’s a good thing. If that’s what keeps the community safer and at least feeling safer it’s a good thing.”
Radke says the state hospital is keeping the Kaneohe neighborhood board informed, but says he’s well aware of the overcrowding issues the hospital faces. “But if it’s from overcrowding and they are having to upgrade security level of those buildings then that’s another issue. The community should definitely be appreciative of the state hospital because they’re doing that but also concerned that the overcrowding is starting to affect safety and security.”