Government

Iowa nurse hurt during assault at Independence Mental Health Institute; union head blames lack of training, funding

INDEPENDENCE — A licensed practical nurse at the Independence Mental Health Institute was reportedly injured in an assault on Wednesday.

The LPN was severely injured during a Code Green incident at the facility, according to Danny Homan, president of AFSCME Council 61.

The nurse sustained a severe concussion after being punched in the head, and her knee and shoulder were injured, Homan said.

Homan said it took 12 people to intervene and control the individual when the Code Green was called.

“Staff are terrified that a riot is near and that they have no adequate training or tools to protect themselves,” he said. “A ‘turtle shield’ was purchased for protection, but no training on its use has been provided. One staff member shared with me that, ‘I have a terrible feeling in my gut that someone up here is going to be seriously disabled or killed.’ ”

Matt Highland, spokesman for the Iowa Department of Human Services, confirmed an incident took place at MHI but would not corroborate the details due to patient confidentiality.

“The safety of our patients and staff are our highest priority,” he said. “This is evident by the purchase of a turtle shield blocking pad to provide additional protection for patients and staff.”

He said the Independence MHI has had no budget cuts related to nursing staff.

“However, due to Iowa’s strong economy and low unemployment, it can be a challenge getting positions filled as quickly as the department would like,” he said.

He said the Independence MHI serve patients with difficult and challenging behaviors.

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