ESH staff at fair told not to call 911 - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

ESH staff at fair told not to call 911

DSHS Secretary Susan Dreyfus and Richard Kellogg, director of mental health systems at DSHS released details from an Eastern State Hospital critical incident review Friday DSHS Secretary Susan Dreyfus and Richard Kellogg, director of mental health systems at DSHS released details from an Eastern State Hospital critical incident review Friday

SPOKANE, Wash. - Eastern State Hospital staff were told not to call 911 following the disappearance of schizophrenic killer Phillip PaulPhillip Paul from a group outing to the Spokane County Interstate Fair, officials with the Department of Social Health and Services said Friday.

Paul escaped from hospital staff on September 17 and was captured September 20 on a rural south-central Washington highway.

Paul was committed after he was diagnosed as schizophrenic and acquitted by reason of insanity in the slaying of an elderly woman in Sunnyside in 1987.

DSHS Secretary Susan Dreyfus and Richard Kellogg, director of mental health systems at DSHS, explained the circumstances surrounding Paul's escape in a news conference Friday.


ADVISORY: The circumstances surrounding Paul's escape are outlined in a 'critical incident review' released by the hospital. The review provides a timeline of the events preceding and following Phillip Paul's escape. To view the report, click the link to the right of this story.

According to Kellogg, when hospital staff, who were supervising the fair outing, realized Paul was missing they called the hospital to ask if they should call 911. Kellogg says staff at the fair called the hospital twice to ask and both times were told not to call police.

Hospital policy states that staff are to immediately notify authorities and the failure to do so represents "significant breakdowns by staff at the hospital."

Dreyfus stated during the press conference that the staff's failure to call 911 "raises serious community concerns" and that their inaction "impeded law enforcement."

Paul went missing around 11:45 a.m. and the Medical Lake Police Department was eventually notified two hours later.

When asked who told staff at the fair not to call 911, DSHS officials declined to release that person(s) identity, but added 12 hospital staff members were aware of Paul's disappearance before law enforcement was notified.

Dreyfus said that the suspension of group outings remains in effect and will stand until DSHS officials can be assured that proper procedures will be followed.

The news conference comes one day after hospital CEO Hal Wilson's resignation became official. Wilson's resignation was directly related to Paul's escape as he stated in a letter to Dreyfus.

"Based on the recent circumstances of a patient escaping... I think it is best that I resign my position as Chief Executive Officer," wrote Wilson.

Dreyfus also commented on the Spokane County Sheriff's Office hopes to be reimbursed for the costs associated with capturing Paul saying DSHS will work with the sheriff's office as best they can.

The sheriff acknowledged that search and arrest activities are already funded in his budget, but he maintained that the costs were expenditures that only arose based on questionable Eastern State Hospital policies and procedures.

The total cost of the search came to $37,495.03.

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