Husband of shooting victim says state isn't responding

Monday, December 3rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ The husband of a nurse who was shot to death by a former mental health patient says the state isn't doing enough to prevent future incidents.

State officials cleared the mental health system following a review of the shooting at Craig General Hospital in Vinita this fall.

A former schizophrenic patient treated at Eastern State Hospital walked into Craig General in October and shot nurse DeAnna Dorsey of Welch. The shooter, Ricky Martin, was killed by police officers as he pointed a gun at them outside the hospital.

Many blamed Dorsey's death on the cutback at Eastern State Hospital.

The Department of Mental Health's Consumer Advocacy Division conducted a review of the incident, but the results have not been released. A memo sent to the governor by Mental Health Commissioner Terry Cline says the investigation determined that neither the department nor area mental health providers were at fault.

Dale Dorsey, husband of DeAnna Dorsey, said he was not allowed to see the report because of confidentiality issues.

He said it seems the state is trying to minimize the seriousness of the situation. Gov. Frank Keating ``turned a deaf ear'' when warned the downsizing of Eastern State Hospital could leave mental health patients without proper care, Dorsey said.

``I would like to have an opportunity to pass pictures of my wife in the body bag out to state legislators and the governor,'' he told the Tulsa World.

Dorsey is skeptical of the Department of Mental Health's report because it could allow the existing situation in Vinita to continue. He supports a state law that would bar seriously mentally ill people from buying firearms, particularly if they have a history of violence.

``If it could save even one life in the future, then it would be worth it,'' he said. ``I would not wish the type of pain I'm feeling right now on anyone.''

The Department of Mental Health will not release information about Martin because his privacy rights are protected under state law even after his death, officials said.

Cline said the report did not find any indication that the downsizing of Eastern State was to blame.

``The downsizing has already occurred, it's over,'' the mental health commissioner said. ``That happened before I came on board. I think of it as the past; now let's look ahead to the future.''

The downsizing, which began in January 2000, moved former Eastern State patients out of the hospital and into the care of seven community-based hospitals under contract with the Department of Mental Health.

Vinita is home to many residential care facilities filled with former Eastern State patients.