Over 60 Staff Positions Vacant at Hawaii State Hospital
Individuals under subpoena wait to testify. Mr. Elliot’s attorney emphasizes the importance of protecting confidential personnel matters.
by Lisa Davidson, Senate Minority Blog, April 14, 2014
Senators Slom, Shimabukuro, Baker, and Co-Chairs Green and Hee received testimony from William Elliot, Acting Hawaii State Hospital Administrator, in another hearing of the Senate Special Investigative Committee. Five individuals had been issued subpoenas for the meeting on Wednesday, April 9, at 10 a.m. in Conference Room 16. However, for two and a half hours Senator Hee repeatedly queried Mr. Elliot, who has worked for the Hospital for 20 years, on his qualifications, job descriptions, and participation in hiring and overtime staffing decisions.
As accusations of nepotism in hiring practices at the State Hospital were alleged in earlier hearings, Mr. Elliot described the hospital’s current hiring protocol, but had been advised by his attorney to not address questions regarding personnel issues involving individual names or personal history in open session. To date, the testimony of other administrators remains to be heard. Though present, Dr. Mark Fridovich, Adult Mental Health Division Administrator; William Sheehan, Associate Administrator of Clinical Services; Linda Rosen, newly appointed Director of the Department of Health; and Lynn Fallin, Deputy Director of Behavioral Health Administration, did not have the opportunity to provide their perspective on the investigation of workplace safety for psychiatric workers and the ongoing allegations of administrative improprieties.
For approximately four and a half years throughout his tenure, William Elliot wore two hats, serving as both Acting Administrator and Associate Administrator for the Adult Mental Health Division’s Support Services. He acknowledged to Senator Green that the staff turnover rate remains approximately 12%, with approximately 60 direct and non-direct staff positions vacant and in continuous recruitment. “The process is pretty rigid,” said Elliot, acknowledging that it takes at least 66 working days to hire staff, according to a study performed several years ago. He admitted to Senator Slom that he is not usually directly involved in hiring decisions. Senators Green and Baker asked about disciplinary actions that would be taken if staff did try to hire relatives in contradiction to policy, and Elliot said the hospital uses a “progressive discipline” protocol involving warnings and suspensions before discharge.
The next hearing will convene on April 30th at 10 a.m., beginning with the testimony of Dr. Fridovich.