Governor: State Hospital Escape Unacceptable

Nov 15, 2017

Dr. Ginnie Pressler, director of the state Department of Health answers questions while attorney general, Doug Chin and Governor David Ige stand by.
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

Hawai’i State Hospital patient Randall Saito was captured and is being held in California.  The Governor called a news conference to announce steps taken by the administration. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports.

Governor David Ige says Hawai’i State Hospital escapee, Randall Saito, acquitted in 1981 by reason of insanity for killing a woman, should not have been allowed to leave the facility.

“Clearly the fact that the escape occurred and it was 10 hours before we identified that someone was missing and then instituted the protocol to inform law enforcement both in the state and the county, is totally unacceptable.”

State Hospital workers on duty during the escape have been relieved of their duties and placed on unpaid leave.  The Hospital also stopped all unescorted patient privileges, both inside and outside of the facility.  Department of Health director, Dr. Ginnie Pressler, says the incident was the result of a breakdown in communication and safety procedures.

“Our internal investigation at this time reveals that staff may have inadvertently or purposefully neglected proper notification of supervisors and proper supervision of the patient as required by hospital protocols.”

The Governor also directed Attorney General Doug Chin to conduct a full investigation of the incident, including the possibility of identifying those who helped Saito.

“I suppose one more obvious one would be like accomplice to escape because if they were doing something to help this along.  But, I think at this point in time we are not able to go into detail whether or not it was people inside or outside the facility.”

Kaneohe Rep. Jarrett Keohokalole, Sen. Jill Tokuda and Rep. Ken Ito brief media on unacceptable measures taken by the Ige Administration.
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

Chin says Saito will be returned to Hawai’i in a few days and his hospital investigation will be completed as soon as possible.  Meanwhile, State Senator Jill Tokuda, who represents the Kaneohe community where the State Hospital is located, says lawmakers have appropriated more than 200 million dollars to help the hospital and residents are tired of waiting.

“At this point now we have seen at least 3 or 4, if not 5 administrations tell us, ‘Yes, we have a problem.  We don’t know how to fix it.’ It is absolutely unacceptable and people want to see some change out there.”

The Hawai’i State Hospital has 200 patients and employs 630 staff on 24/7 shifts.    Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.