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Hospital brawl brings about action, harmony among agencies

Déjà vu. That’s how Plumas County Sheriff Greg Hagwood saw it as an inmate/mental health patient went on a rampage at Plumas District Hospital early Wednesday, Sept. 12.

It took six Plumas County Sheriff’s deputies and California Highway Patrol officers to subdue the patient about 6 a.m., according to Hagwood.

Following a meeting Thursday, Sept. 13, PDH, Behavioral Health and the sheriff’s office met to recognize their individual industry standards and find solutions, Hagwood explained. “It was one of the better meetings I’ve been to in a long time,” he said.

“We’re looking at accelerating the process of getting people on their way,” Hagwood explained. No one will be left wandering the halls of a local hospital, he added.


In thinking about the issue, what bothered Hagwood was the Oct. 20, 2013, incident at Eastern Plumas Health Care in Portola.

Deputy Tom Klundby, the only officer in eastern Plumas, responded to a 911 call from EPHC staff reporting problems with a 53-year-old patient.

The man was aggressive toward staff. When Klundby arrived, the man attacked him. They fought and the aggressor was able to get his hands on the officer’s Taser and baton. As he swung the baton at Klundby’s head, Klundby had no choice but to protect himself. He fired four shots that resulted in the man’s death.

Klundby was placed on administrative leave, following the shooting, and was cleared of any wrongdoing through an investigation.

Present incident

In discussing the current incident, Hagwood said the man, who will remain unidentified, has a long history with the sheriff’s office.

Upon his most recent arrest, he was being held in the corrections center. Although he was seeing a behavioral health therapist in the facility, it was clear that his behavior was deteriorating, Hagwood said.

During discussions with a behavioral health representative, Hagwood said they agreed it was time to transport the individual to a mental health facility.

The man was transported to PDH for a health check before being transported elsewhere in the state, according to Hagwood.

The problem seemed to begin when the patient refused to allow PDH staff to do a standard blood draw, Hagwood explained.

That meant he couldn’t be transported without a medical release.

Hagwood said the man was left to roam the halls and parking lot at PDH for hours. Behavioral Health couldn’t transport him under those circumstances because they needed his permission. The sheriff’s office couldn’t return him to jail.

Once the man had become violent, hospital medical staff could take steps to calm him and behavioral health could speed up the process to transport him to a facility with an opening.

“It’s a challenging set of circumstances,” Hagwood said. Each agency has its regulations to follow and there was no mechanism to bring representatives immediately together to discuss what needed to be done. However, a meeting among the agencies was organized for the following afternoon.

The meeting

Five PDH representatives, emergency room doctors and nurses, Behavioral Health Director Tony Hobson and a senior staff member, and the sheriff and four of his people met to discuss their shared concerns and regulations.

There was no finger pointing or blaming, Hagwood said about the most recent incident. “It was informational and educational for everyone,” he said.

Hobson agreed that it was a very productive meeting. He said it was important that everyone understood each agency’s regulations regarding mental health holds (commonly called 5150s after the California penal code).

Hobson said this gave everyone an opportunity to visit the problem that had been left unresolved in years past.

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