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A patient at Humboldt County’s in-patient mental health hospital, Sempervirens, escaped from the facility yesterday by squeezing through some chain link fencing in an outdoor exercise area. The patient returned to the facility voluntarily about three hours later, according to Heather Muller, public information manager for the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services. 

“Sempervirens is a locked facility,” Muller said, “but it is not, and is not intended to be, a maximum security prison. It’s a treatment facility where we need to balance patient comfort with the security needs of patients, staff and the community as a whole.”

Muller said the hospital was fully staffed at the time of the escape, so the incident can’t be blamed on the current staffing shortage in the county’s Mental Health Branch.

The premises were reinspected to make sure the avenue of escape had been closed, Muller said.