The response from the Mid-Hudson administration to this crisis is emblematic of official responses across the country. According to the employee, when the staff dealt with violent, psychotic patients, hospital executives suggested using “the value of humor” to calm them. Other tactics included “the use of swings, water beds with vibration and music, rides around the perimeter in a car” and heavily padded “sumo suits.”
And things are worse for the other patients, who absorb the majority of the beatings and trauma and, in some cases, are not mentally or physically capable of defending themselves. While attempting to get well, they continue to be assaulted and re-assaulted.
This combination of violence and official silence is not isolated to New York State. A 2013 TV news investigation in Arizona discovered hundreds of assaults a year at the state’s mental hospital. In Maryland, a confidential state report, discovered by The Baltimore Sun, described inpatient units at the Catonsville psychiatric hospital as “lawless environments.” And in Texas, a full 15 percent of staff members at the state’s hospitals are the subjects of “severe patient assault” every year, according to a news report.