Oregon fines mental health hospital $1.6k for failing to protect workers from patient assaults

Oregon regulators fined Portland, Ore.-based Unity Center for Behavioral Health $1,650 after an investigation found facility operators failed to implement measures to prevent future assaults on employees, reports Oregon Live.

During an investigation of the mental health facility, which was launched after numerous employees reported being assaulted by patients, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division found Unity violated four safety rules and regulations. In particular, the behavioral health center failed to properly log, document and investigate the roughly 300 assaults on staff members by patients.

In addition, OSHA documented an 'uneasy culture' at the behavioral health center in the investigation. During interviews, some employees said they didn't report minor assaults, like a punch to the face, because they feared they would be viewed negatively by the administration. Other employees told OSHA no safety measures were implemented after reports of assaults, according to Oregon Live.

Unity Center for Behavioral Health, which is only about one year old, was created by Portland-based Legacy Health, Portland-based Oregon Health and Science University, Adventist Health Portland, and Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente.

"We recently received the results of the investigation conducted by Oregon OHSA. Our staff are reviewing the letter to better understand the findings and will determine a response based on that review," Brian Terrett, a Legacy Health spokesperson, told Oregon Live.

OSHA's findings come about a month after two $1 million lawsuits were filed against the behavioral health center by former nurses who claimed they were fired from their jobs for complaining about their safety.

Unity has 30 days to appeal OSHA's findings.

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