- Associated Press - Thursday, March 16, 2017

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - Multiple former employees of a Rapid City mental health hospital have filed federal complaints saying the facility was an unsafe work environment.

The ex-employees of Regional Behavioral Health Center alleged in their complaints to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that the hospital’s procedures and faculties made the center a dangerous place for employees to work, the Rapid City Journal (https://bit.ly/2nrM0mQ ) reported.

Some of the complaints included employee abuse by patients, hospital overcapacity and unjust treatment toward patients.

Investigator Eric Brooks could not speak directly on the issue but said an on-site inspection took place in October. Hospital Chief Operating Officer Paulette Davidson says Regional Health is taking the administration’s inspection of the facility “very seriously” and has worked with Brooks to make safety changes.

“Their perception is our reality; if they felt unsafe, we needed to address that, and we did,” she said. Davidson said the hospital has been taking Brooks’ recommendations into account, along with employees’ concerns.

“We identified several areas we wanted to address,” she said. “For example we increased our security presence, we have updated technology for security services and we are also in the process of improving the lighting in the parking lot at the campus.” The technology includes an increase in security cameras.

The facility recently stirred controversy when it announced in February that it would “no longer admit patients to the behavioral health facility who have neurodevelopmental/cognitive disorders such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or Autism Spectrum Disorders.” Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris said the decision would drain his agency and isn’t a good solution for patients.

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, https://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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