Nurse seriously injured in patient assault at Anoka Metro Treatment Regional Center

A nurse at Anoka Metro Treatment Regional Center received serious injuries when a patient assaulted her, according to the Department of Human Services.

The incident happened Thursday evening when the nurse went to check on the patient. After the assault, other staff and patients came to help her.

“Assaults on staff at DHS facilities are deeply concerning to all of us," said Department of Human Services Commissioner Tony Lourey in a statement. "This is a traumatic event and my thoughts are with the injured staff member and those others who witnessed the attack. Because patients at AMRTC have highly complex mental illnesses that can result in volatile behavior, safety is always a top priority."

Many of the patients at AMRTC are civilly committed from correctional facilities, according to the Department of Human Services.

According to FOX 9 Investigators report in 2016, injuries to staff aren't uncommon at the hospital. In 2015, the local union documented 55 injuries, which included incidents such as sucker punches, assaults and getting stabbed in the eye with a pencil. 

DHS says among the measures to keep staff safe include an incident command system for emergency response, an assessment and management process for aggressive patients, staff training on de-escalation techniques, and limiting new admissions to AMRTC when there is a higher amount of aggressive patients. 

“We review high-risk patients multiple times and day and try to anticipate problems," Lourey said in a statement. "We have implemented many safeguards and we review incidents to see if there are new measures that we can take to ensure the safety of our staff and patients.”  

In the past, AMRTC has struggled with low staffing levels. However, the DHS says the hospital is not understaffed. Carrie Mortrud of the Minnesota Nurses Association says more could have been done.

“The nurses knew things were unsafe, the situation was unsafe, and requested help and assistance, and they were told they didn’t need any,” said Mortrud.

The Minnesota Nurses Association says currently, there’s a 10-to-1 ratio of patients to nurse. They say the facility used to employ guards, but it no longer does.

“It shouldn’t have to take this to make change,” said Mortrud. “It should be enough to have the nurses say we need more nurses, we need more resources, we need more staff. This is the kind of staff we need and it should be adhered to.”