5 health workers injured in less than a month at state-run facilitiesBy DAVE SOLOMON
State House Bureau
August 22. 2017 12:49AM
CONCORD - Five state health care workers were injured by patients in late June and early July - one at the Sununu Youth Services Center and four at New Hampshire Hospital - in the worst spate of violence at state-run health care facilities since late 2016, the last time such work-related injuries were reported.
A youth counselor who tried to break up a July 8 fight at the Sununu Center, and a nurse who was attacked at New Hampshire Hospital on June 26, have still not been able to return to work.
All five incidents are described in paperwork submitted by the Department of Health and Human Services for the Wednesday meeting of the governor and Executive Council, when the council will be asked to approve a determination that the injuries were “sustained in the line of duty due to a hostile or overt act ... during the performance of duties considered dangerous in nature.”
The final determination by the council is necessary to ensure that the employees don’t lose any annual leave or sick days for the time lost due to injury, and that they remain on active payroll during their recovery.
Youth counselor Kimberlee Hebert was assaulted on July 8 while trying to break up a fight between two youths at the Sununu Center, according to DHHS. She suffered injuries to both arms and thumbs, and is still unable to return to work.
June Garen, a registered nurse at New Hampshire Hospital, was assaulted on June 26 by a patient who punched her head, neck, chest and back, according to the state agency. She also has been unable to return to work.
John Dugan, a mental health worker at New Hampshire Hospital, was reportedly assaulted on July 2 by a patient who “punched him in the face with a closed fist,” according to the DHHS report. Dugan’s thumb was jammed as he tried to restrain the patient, and he was unable to return to work until July 15.
Nick Metalious, a mental health worker at New Hampshire Hospital, was reportedly assaulted on June 20, when a patient at the hospital punched him in the face several times. He returned to work on July 18.
Sandra Cole, a registered nurse at New Hampshire Hospital, was the victim of a somewhat unusual attack. According to DHHS records, on July 2, a patient at the hospital assaulted Cole by “throwing a Bible at her face, striking her nose and forehead.” She returned to work on July 6.
The five assaults from June 20 to July 8 are the first reported since late 2016. The Executive Council was last asked to approve “injury in the line of duty” findings at its Feb. 1 meeting, when five health-care worker injuries were reported in November and December of 2016
“There is no particular pattern to when these incidents occur,” said DHHS spokesman Jake Leon, “although it should be noted that the acuity level of patients at New Hampshire Hospital has been steadily rising.”