- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 2, 2016

REDFIELD, S.D. (AP) - Some former employees of the South Dakota Developmental Center allege that the facility in Redfield has a hostile administration and a dangerous work environment.

Former employee Paul Register collected 84 employee signatures on a petition that was submitted late last year to the state Department of Human Services. But nothing has been done to address the dangerous conditions for both staff and clients, Register told the American News (https://bit.ly/1KTVTuG ).

Staff meetings have been held to address the claims, according to Jan Banghart, the center’s director. However, any changes that have been made are part of an ongoing effort and not the result of the recent concerns, she said.

“I think there’s always changes for continuous quality assurance, and we’ve been working on them for years,” Banghart said.

Focus groups have been formed to work on worker retention, recruitment and better support for staff, she added.

Other former employees have spoken out in support of Register’s claims.

Register and another former employee, Gerri Gallup, spoke before the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee in Pierre on Jan. 25 about how understaffing has forced current employees to work mandatory overtime hours and has put stress on the center’s budget.

Without proper staffing, the possibility of serious injuries increases, Register said.

Banghart has said the instances of injuries have decreased, while Register claims the injuries have become more serious.

Diana Wright, who has worked at the center since May 2014, said risk of injury is the nature of the job. Banghart agreed with her statement, adding that the job isn’t for everyone.

The state-funded facility supports people with developmental disabilities. About 140 people live at the center and get round-the-clock care.

The center has 238 full-time staff with about 40 open full-time positions.

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Information from: Aberdeen American News, https://www.aberdeennews.com

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