Minnesota Security Hospital staff member assaulted by patient

A 16-year-old patient at the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter, Minn. violently assaulted a female staff member Monday evening, the Department of Human Services confirmed. 

The staff member was working in the mental illness division at the secure hospital in St. Peter, Minn. when the male patient bashed her head into a brick wall, then kicked her repeatedly. The woman reportedly began suffering seizures on the ground and was taken to Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato, Minn. for treatment.

"Morale is at an all-time low," Matt Stenger, the hospital union's spokesperson said. "He ended up grabbing a female staff by her hair, bashing her head up against a brick wall and then either kneeing or kicking her in the face while she was down.”

The union is blaming her violent injuries on a security hospital policy that bans patient restraints and other proactive techniques when the mentally ill get out of control.

“We weren’t able to restrain or seclude the client while he was acting up and creating a unit disturbance for 2 hours," Stenger said.  "That was a direct result."

St. Peter police and the Department of Human Services are investigating the incident, which was reported at 7:23 p.m. Monday. Forensic Treatment Services executive director Carol Olson released the following statement to Fox 9:

"On Monday night, July 13, a patient at the Minnesota Security Hospital assaulted a staff member, resulting in serious injury to the staff member. Last night we called local law enforcement and are working with them on appropriate action. We remain committed to a safe and secure treatment environment for employees as well as patients and will carefully review this incident to determine how situations like this can be prevented in the future.”

AFSCME members have claimed low staffing levels are putting their members in danger. The union has been asking the Minnesota legislature to increase funding to boost staffing.

“Keeping workers and the public safe is a core responsibility of government and it should be a funding priority,” the group posted on its Safe Staffing MN Facebook page. “The Minnesota Security Hospital requires $10.4 million to add staff and other safety measures that protect patients. Investments are also needed for safe staffing at correctional facilities, nursing homes, hospitals, and other human service facilities operated by the state and counties.”

Law enforcement was brought in to assist, but because of the patient's age and mental health condition he was not taken to jail. Instead, the union said he remains in the very until where the assault occurred.

68 staff have been injured by violent patients in six months at the state security hospital in St. Peter, according to an OSHA injury log (January through June 2015).  The number and severity of the injuries is unprecedented in the history of the state hospital.

OSHA recordable injuries at DHS facilities

414 injuries, 213 aggression-related

382 injuries, 188 aggression-related

446 injuries, 258 aggression-related

2015 (through May)
217 injuries, 137 aggression-related

OSHA recordable injuries include anything that fits into the following categories:

Medical treatment beyond first aid
Days away from work
Restricted work or job transfer
Loss of consciousness
Significant illness or injury diagnosed by a medical professional