The State Worker

Memorial set for murdered Napa hospital employee

Family members of slain hospital employee Donna Gross, state lawmakers and state workers will gather at Napa State Hospital on Wednesday to reflect on her life and to highlight safety concerns at state mental health facilities.

The Safety Now Coalition of unions, which is organizing the 11 a.m. event, has also asked hospital employees statewide to wear black in observance of the third anniversary of her death at the Napa facility. The 54-year-old psychiatric technician from Concord had worked at the hospital for 14 years when she was killed by patient Jess Willard Massey, who is serving a 25-years-to-life sentence for the crime.

The killing shoved state hospital safety concerns to the foreground, fueled several Safety Now demonstrations statewide and lent momentum to new laws that streamlined involuntary medication procedures for dangerous patients. New alarm systems are being installed in state hospitals intended to increase patient and employee safety.

The union coalition includes six unions with members working in California's mental hospitals: the American Federation of State County & Municipal Employees Local 2620, Service Employees International Union Local 1000, the California Association of Psychiatric Technicians, the Union of America Physicians & Dentists, the International Union of Operating Engineers and the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association.