Violence Against Workers Spikes At Independence Facility

Four staff members were attacked while working at the Independence Mental Health Institute over a nine day period, according to an AFSCME Council 61 statement earlier today.

The incidents began on June 6 when a residential treatment worker was hit on the head and jaw by a patient who escaped restraints. The staff member is now collecting workers’ compensation and is being treated for a head injury, a cervical sprain and TMJ pain.

A registered nurse was attacked the same day. The RN was punched in the nose and scratched. The RN gave notice of her planned resignation, then was moved to work in the sex offender unit. A co-worker was then assaulted shortly after the nurse moved to the new unit, according to the AFSCME press release. The assaulted worker continued to work, but later responded to a Code Green in a separate unit, leaving the RN to work alone in the sex offender unit, something she was told she wouldn’t have to do.

“Fed up with poor training, mandatory overtime and low morale, she resigned immediately following that fearful shift,” AFSCME said.

On June 14 another staff person was assaulted by a patient. That staff person had their head slammed into a wall and was punched.

“There is a safety crisis taking place for the employees of the Independence MHI, and the State of Iowa is showing no urgency to address it,” AFSCME Council 61 President Danny Homan said. “These frequent assaults point to the incompetence of the management running the facility and their carelessness when putting frontline workers in avoidable danger. Open positions are left unfilled, training is ineffective and incomplete, and managers pick and choose who they like best when granting vacation time off and benefits like catastrophic leave.”

DHS Director Jerry Foxhoven was unexpectedly dismissed by Gov. Kim Reynolds earlier this week. DHS oversees the Independence facility. Homan said that when Reynolds talks about taking DHS in a new direction, “we sure hope that includes safety measures for the dedicated public service workers who are put in harm’s way every single day.”


by Paige Godden
Posted 6/19/19

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