NAPA, Calif. -- As the number of violent attacks escalates at the Napa State Hospital, some have linked it to a ban on cigarettes inside the hospital. Others are highly critical of this idea. Over the years, violence at Napa State Hospital has been well documented.The death of hospital employee Donna Gross last October brought to light the rise in violence among patients and employees.The alleged killer of Donna Gross is patient Jess Massey. A man who, according to records, has a criminal history of armed robbery, sexual assault, and murder. Some patients at Napa State Hospital believe they know why Donna was targeted."If you talk about the Jess Massey thing, it's almost a unanimous consensus.
He killed her over tobacco," said Michael, a hospital patient. Tobacco has been banned from campus since July 2008. Staff and patients say a single cigarette can sell for about $7. A pack of cigarettes can go for $150. "There has always been a tobacco trade here for the last 20 something years that I've been here. It's just gotten more expensive because it’s harder to get in," said registered nurse Sharon Sanguinetti.
Since the campus has been tobacco free, patient on staff assaults have nearly quadrupled. From September 2008 to February 2009 there have been 75 reported assaults. In 2010, there were 287 assaults. The Department of Mental Health said the rise in assaults is not tied to tobacco.They said the increase I attacks stemmed from them changing the way data was collected and reported in 2009. That change included how
aggression was defined and that change could have led to an increase in the number of reports.