HONOLULU (KHON2) — “It could have been me!” That’s what a former Hawaii State Hospital worker told KHON2, saying he’s been raising safety concerns there for years.
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Kalford Keanu was a psychiatric technician at the State Hospital for 17 years. During that time he said he endured what many of his co-workers experienced.
“Assaulted two, three times a week at least. I was at the Intake Unit, they’re not stable on medication, so it’s part of the job,” he said.
While there have been efforts to make the place safer by building a new hospital, Keanu said there were other parts of the facility that were ignored such as the Transitional Housing Center.
“We got the same type of clients and it’s dangerous. So I don’t know what it will take to make it better, but I do know it starts at the top,” said Keanu.
He said he raised his concerns with management and not enough was done. He finally left the job in July for the sake of his family.
“I got a new baby, big decision was made. I know it’s the right decision because the hospital ain’t safe,” he said.
“I was always worried praying that he’ll come home safe, praying that he wouldn’t get hurt, it was on my mind,” said his wife Britney Keanu.
He and his wife were shaken when they found out about the stabbing.
“I was crying, I was thinking that could’ve been my husband,” she said.
It’s their hope that drastic changes will now be made.
“Take care of it, look at what’s going on, listen to the staff and make the change because you got a murder. Some staff member who went to work trying to help the community, trying to provide for his family, didn’t come back home,” said Kalford.
The union representing State Hospital workers sent a statement saying, “We are deeply saddened by the tragic news of the fatal stabbing of a staff member… Our hearts go out to his family, friends, and all those affected by this senseless loss.”