Local state Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian has been named to the committee that oversees Atascadero State Hospital, the Select Committee on Hospital Safety.
The freshman Assemblyman, a San Luis Obispo Republican and former member of the county Board of Supervisors, was named to the post by Assembly Speaker John Perez.
Earlier, Perez appointed Achadjian to the Joint Committee on Fairs, Allocation, and Classification.
Atascadero State Hospital, one of five state hospitals, has nearly 2,000 employees, making it one of the largest employers in the county.
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It and other state hospitals have been plagued with safety problems for workers, a situation Achadjian acknowledged in accepting the assignment.
“The hard-working employees in our state hospitals perform some of the most dangerous jobs in California,” Achadjian wrote in a news release. “Every day, they put their safety at risk as they treat some of the most violent and criminally insane offenders in our state.
“Over the years,” Achadjian continued, “I have had the opportunity to visit Atascadero State Hospital, hearing story after story of the assaults inflicted upon hospital workers at the hands of inmates.
“I hope to share these stories with my colleagues and shine the spotlight on the dangers our state hospital workers face,” he wrote. “The men and women who work there deserve safe working conditions and better protection against incidents of harm.”
Over the past several years, incidents of assault against employees at state hospitals have increased substantially, and in 2010, an unarmed worker at Napa State Hospital was strangled by a patient.
Achadjian said the Select Committee “will investigate the reasons behind the surge in attacks against state hospital employees, while seeking solutions to better protect those who work inside the facilities.”
Standing committees that Achadjian will sit on include banking and finance, on which he is vice-chair; arts, entertainment, sports, tourism and Internet media; higher education; and transportation.
He also is on the select committees for aerospace, California-Mexico Bi-National Affairs, and wine.
Achadjian represents all of San Luis Obispo County and northern Santa Barbara County in Sacramento.