Reports: Arkansas State Hospital at Max Capacity yet Understaffed

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Reports reveal the Arkansas State Hospital is at max capacity yet understaffed. 

Documents we obtained show the facility requested 62 additional positions in September to "operate at full capacity and maintain compliance with CMS and Joint Commission regulations."

"These positions are essential to fulfill the Hospitals obligation to meet the medical needs of the patients," it continued. 

The positions vary from nurses to public safety security officers to behavioral health aides.

"Staffing levels really swing everything," said Pulaski County Sheriff Doc Holladay.

Sheriff Holladay keeps tabs on all 1,200 inmates in his detention facility, but about six percent of them should not be there.

Seventy-nine inmates are currently committed to the state hospital for their pre-trial mental evaluation. Only 12 have completed them.

The evaluation determines whether an inmate is mentally fit to stand trial. 

"It's important that we get them out of here and into the state hospital as quickly as possible," Holladay said. 

The state hospital does not just service Pulaski but all 75 counties in Arkansas. 

The facility's 160 beds are currently full.

"It's first come, first served," Holladay said. "So we just have to in many cases wait our turn."

However, reports reveal there are vacancies in staffing.

"It slows down the ability to complete the evaluations in a timely manner," Holladay said. 

The longer these inmates' mental evaluations are delayed, Sheriff Holladay said the longer their trials are delayed.

"They're a danger to themselves," he said. "They're a danger to the staff of the jail. They're a danger to other inmates."

While they wait behind bars for a bed at the state hospital, about 65 full-time employees at the jail, including a doctor, psychiatrists, mental health professionals and nurses, care for the inmates.

"We're a mental health facility in a fashion," Holladay said. "It's a big enterprise." 

The detention center's nearly $4 million medical budget covers their care.

"We haven't exceeded our budget in years so it's adequate to the point that we monitor the budget daily," Holladay said.

The state hospital falls under DHS.

The agency said while the facility would like to have more employees, its staffing level is fully compliant.  

More Stories

Trending Stories

Latest News