LINCOLN — State Senator Carol Blood intervenes on behalf of workers and patients at the Lincoln Regional Center, where assaults, equipment needs, and forced overtime create dangerous conditions at state psychiatric hospitals. said.
Rep. Bellevue told Gov. Jim Pillen that he knew the change wasn’t happening quickly enough and told the Nebraska State Attorney General he was meeting with union leaders, urging him to act quickly. asked.
“It’s getting very dangerous,” Brad said.
Mr. Piren’s office received a letter from Mr. Brad on Monday outlining his concerns, including a group of workers discussing possible protests.
A spokesman for the governor confirmed receipt of the letter and said, “A response will be given to the governor’s office in due course.”
“Corrective Facility and Hospital Combined”
Brad said a mental health professional, or “technician,” at the regional center contacted her in early August to brief her about the situation at a 250-bed inpatient psychiatric hospital run by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. .
The complex serves people in need of specialized mental health services and adults who are not criminally responsible because of their mental illness.
A union representative representing mental health professionals describes the regional center as “a combination of a correctional facility and a hospital,” where technicians protect themselves when dealing with potentially violent patients. He said different and better training is needed to be able to do that.
Mike Chipman, president of Police Fraternity Lodge 88, which represents engineers, said an increasing number of engineers are seeking medical attention because of working conditions. One technician was recently attacked and underwent facial surgery, he said.
“No one has to be a punching bag,” Chipman said.
Technicians experience the majority of patient contact, handle tasks such as mental health episodes, help treat patients, and even perform cleaning duties such as taking out the trash, Brad said. .
She said there appears to be a shortage of hand-held radios, an important tool for technicians who need to call for assistance during a crisis. I have less rest time.
Brad said overtime mandates were not common until July 2023, based on the data provided.
The patient is at risk, Blood added.
“We seem to be unable to manage our patients in a compassionate way, especially as we continue to be understaffed with technicians,” she said.
FOP Lodge 88 vice president Jerry Britten said concerns stemmed from multiple sources, including management changes, staff turnover and inadequate training of technicians, who start at $25.75 an hour.
He said he was “optimistic” that the governor’s office would respond as it improved, but that “progress has been slow and we want to strengthen.”
Brad’s letter and complaints from technicians who said they didn’t want to identify themselves for fear of retaliation follow a report last December that said assaults on staff at regional centers nearly doubled in 2022. is.
The report also noted that there were significant vacancies at regional centers that year.
The report, an annual review of public institutions in Nebraska, found that in 2020, unsafe conditions at Geneva’s Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center for Girls forced young people to move to Kearny Facility, which previously housed only boys. has been compulsory since the forced relocation of
Brad said Piren’s office had known about talks of mental health technicians potentially organizing protests since late July. Their contract bans them from taking time off from work, but if a protest were to occur, off-duty workers would likely protest outside the Capitol.
“Now is the time for proper oversight and increased transparency for Nebraskans,” Brad said in the letter.
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