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Patient at state hospital assaults 3 staff members

State House Bureau

March 12. 2018 8:55PM

CONCORD — Three staff members at the state psychiatric hospital were assaulted by a young patient who also caused property damage, according to Lori Shibinette, CEO of New Hampshire Hospital.

Shibinette confirmed reports to the Union Leader from anonymous staff members of an incident late Friday and into early Saturday morning.

“There was an incident at New Hampshire Hospital on Friday in which a youth caused destruction of property and assaulted three members of the NHH team,” according to Shibinette.

“The team members were treated for any injuries and returned to work,” she said. “The NHH team responded to the incident professionally and therapeutically, which de-escalated the incident and contained any damage.”

Initial reports suggested the youth had been transferred to the state hospital from the Sununu Youth Services Center, but Shibinette said that was not the case.

“The youth that caused the majority of the damage during this incident was not from Sununu Youth Services Center,” she said. “The Sununu Youth Services Center only sends to New Hampshire Hospital youths who are suffering from serious mental illness and who can be therapeutically managed at the hospital.”

The number of assaults on staff members at New Hampshire Hospital and at the Sununu Youth Center has been a cause for concern among Health and Human Services executives and members of the Executive Council, which has had to approve several requests for continued compensation of injured employees in recent months.

“Although New Hampshire Hospital suspects that the number of youths being admitted from the community with violent and aggressive behavior is increasing, we are still evaluating the data,” said Shibinette.

“The hospital is not designed to care for youths that suffer from serious aggression and are actively violent. These youths pose a danger to both the NHH team and other patients. They should receive care in a more restrictive environment where both patient and staff safety can be maintained.”

Former NHH nurse June Garen, injured in a patient attack last year, has tried to get improved worker protections enacted through a bill sponsored by state Rep. Mark MacKenzie, D-Manchester, a Democratic candidate in the First Congressional District.

The bill, HB 1500, ended up retained in committee.

“Since I was assaulted at work in June 2017, I have been committed to speaking out about workplace violence and working for improved protection of workers in the public sector,” wrote Garen in an email to supporters on Monday.

“At this point, I feel that in spite of our efforts, the culture in the New Hampshire political arena is invested in stonewalling HB 1500. This stone wall is built along partisan lines, seemingly, and ignores the actual issue of safety in the workplace. It will be up to the folks who have sent this bill off to interim study to explain the wisdom behind this move if more workers suffer workplace injuries similar to mine.”

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