Unions push for better security after nurse attacked at Minnesota treatment center

Employees at Anoka (Minn.) Metro Regional Treatment Center protested May 29 for security upgrades at the psychiatric facility after an attack on a nurse, according to NBC-affiliate TV station KARE.

The employees are represented by the Minnesota Nurses Association, Minnesota Association of Professional Employees and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

They told KARE staff members feel unsafe, and they are concerned about safety of patients and visitors as well.

"That's part of informational picketing, to let the community know that the nurses and the staff inside can’t do their job with the way things are," Carrie Mortrud of the Minnesota Nurses Association said.

"Nurses don't like to ever worry anyone or scare anyone, so if they’re saying it’s unsafe inside, we better listen," said Ms. Mortrud.

The informational picketing follows an incident this month in which a patient attacked a female nurse, according to the TV station, which cites a criminal complaint. The complaint says the male patient repeatedly punched the nurse after she denied his request for Tylenol and recommended a cold pack first.

Friends of the nurse told KARE the nurse spent days in the hospital and is recovering.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services, which operates the Anoka psychiatric hospital, addressed the issue in a statement to media this week.

"Nurses and other staff who care for patients in our psychiatric facilities have difficult and potentially dangerous jobs. I recognize and respect that they face challenges every day," said DHS Commissioner Tony Lourey.

"I met this week with staff and labor representatives at AMRTC who are raising concerns about safety. Their insights and participation are essential to maintaining a safe workplace for staff and patients alike. Safety is a shared priority, and I'm confident that together we can address those concerns in a meaningful way."

According to KARE, the Anoka Police Department no longer contracts with Minnesota to provide security services. Union members told the TV station the treatment center deploys teams of employees to respond to emergencies.


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New York health system has more than 200 nursing openings

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