Minors simply walked out of Mental Health - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Minors simply walked out of Mental Health

by Mindy Aguon

Guam - The escape of two minors has not only highlighted the staffing shortages at the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, but the growing need for security there. A psychiatric tech in the Children's Inpatient Unit at the agency was simply overtaken by two minors on Sunday night. 

"They were able to grab the keys, this is one key that would lock and open doors, from one of the psychiatric technicians and they grabbed it," detailed Wilfred Aflague, Mental Health's director. He says the kids took off with the keys and walked out of the Tamuning facility and the staffer was taken to the Guam Memorial Hospital for a minor injury to her hand.

"The ironic thing," Aflague continued, "is they were going to be released Monday."

The minors were two of six that were admitted to the CIU under the supervision of two psychiatric technicians and a nursing supervisor. But Aflague says the kids were able to walk out of the facility because the department doesn't have any security personnel. "We don't have security here and that's one of my first recruitments; I'm going to ask for when the federal management team's money is released by the judge," he noted. "We're setting up a security system like we have cameras, but we need to buy the monitor, screening monitor, set it up in our entry room in the foyer."

The department is also working with homeland security applying for grants to obtain panic buttons for mental health staff who can utilize them in the event of emergencies. "What I would like to hire right away, that we can hire right away going through policies and procedures and rules is four security guards and a supervisor, and that is on the list of critical employees that the federal management team has set up," Aflague said.

But until that hiring occurs, Aflague says the department is looking to learn from Sunday's escape and find ways to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. "Protocols were followed for the escape and now we're looking at the lessons we're going to implement internally to even include an extra lock on the door things like that," he explained.

According to the Department of Youth Affairs, one of the escapees was turned in by their parents while the other remains on the loose.

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