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Patient charged in death of psychiatric worker

Psychiatric nurses in California are calling for enhanced security measures in state psychiatric hospitals after a 54-year-old psychiatric tech was found dead on the grounds, allegedly at the hands of a patient.

Jess Willard Massey, the patient, was admitted to Napa State Hospital in 1999 after being found not guilty of burglary by reason of insanity. He had been in the state hospital system since 1993 after facing charges that included robbery, assault and attempted murder.

Investigators believe that Massey confronted Gross while she was outside on her dinner break. Co-workers became concerned when she did not return from break.

Nurses and other staff members have expressed concerns for their safety multiple times in recent years. According to, staff members wear a panic button on their belts — but it only works inside the building. They’ve also expressed concern about policies that allow patients to roam and congregate freely on the grounds.

The incident is the latest in a string of attacks on healthcare workers that have heightened concerns about workplace violence. What do you think can be done to keep nurses and healthcare workers safe?


Jennifer Fink, RN, BSN

Jennifer is a professional freelance writer with over eight years experience as a hospital nurse. She has clinical experience in adult health, including med-surg, geriatrics and transplant; she also has a particular interest in women’s health and cancer care. Jennifer has written a variety of health and parenting articles for national publications.

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2 Responses to Patient charged in death of psychiatric worker

  1. Chanel

    If they are insane they don’t have the right to roam around freely. This is why they are in the facility.

  2. cindie

    This is truely sad.