OSHA launches probe into brutal patient attack on St. Peter security hospital staffer

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A violent attack by a Minnesota Security Hospital patient on a staff member is being investigated by state safety regulators.

FOX 9 reports the Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) is now involved following a brutal attack on July 13, in which a 16-year-old patient attacked a female security counselor, kicking her repeatedly and bashing her head into a brick wall, causing her to suffer seizures.

The TV station notes that 68 staff at the hospital in St. Peter, which treats people designated by courts as being mentally ill and dangerous, have been injured by violent patients in the first half of 2015.

The Star Tribune reports OSHA investigators made a surprise visit last Thursday to the facility, meeting with security counselors in the unit where the attack happened and asking questions about what may have triggered it.

"It's clear they are dissecting this very closely," Tim Headlee, a security counselor at the hospital and president of the AFSCME Local 404 union, which represents 500 workers at the hospital, told the newspaper.

WCCO reports that Gov. Mark Dayton will receive a report soon from state officials who were visiting the hospital on Tuesday, and said there is a huge challenge to make it both helpful for patients and safe for staff.

"You ought to go down there and tour that facility," he told the TV station, "and realize how obsolete and difficult it is to provide a therapeutic environment and provide for staff safety."

Union officials have been calling for increased funding to the hospital to improve staffing levels, as well as calling for changes to the way staff are allowed to handle unruly patients.

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