FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 1, 2022
Sen. Nancy Barto Calls for Overhaul of Arizona State Hospital to Protect Vulnerable Patients and Staff
PHOENIX, ARIZONA— In the wake of yet another crisis within the Arizona State Hospital system (ASH), Senator Nancy Barto is calling for credible, independent oversight of operations, staff and patients to create accountability and prevent similar situations from happening again.
On Monday, local media reported three staff members at ASH were assaulted by three patients who damaged medical equipment and threatened to use the items as weapons. Those patients were taken into custody after causing injury to the employees.
"While the Arizona Department of Health Services claims this incident was a rare occurrence, I've been contacted over the years by numerous courageous whistleblowers from within the system that have provided disturbing testimony on the many dangerous incidents, injuries, patient conditions and the lack of staffing that has led to what I see as a collapse of operations at the Arizona State Hospital," said Senator Nancy Barto. "We need independent oversight to hold those accountable for these devastating conditions, to revamp ASH so that some of our state's most vulnerable are getting proper care, and to provide adequate support for the staff charged with caring for these individuals."
Last session, Senator Barto voted in support of Senate Republican legislation, which would have created a new governance structure for the Arizona State Hospital. Under SB 1716, the Arizona Department of Health Services would have no longer been tasked with both running and regulating ASH. Instead, an independent governing board would have created the much-needed leadership that's currently lacking from the system. This legislation failed to pass, but Senator Barto plans to reintroduce a similar version of the bill next session.
"We can no longer let the fox guard the henhouse. Lives are at stake," said Senator Barto. "This is why I have a track record of promoting and voting for several important reforms, including SB 1444 and SB 1651, which both provide some degree of accountability. Clearly more needs to be done to protect those who are suffering from mental illnesses and those who are providing care to these individuals. I will continue to advocate for this worthwhile change."
For more information, contact:
Director of Communications | Arizona State Senate Republican Caucus