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More CMHC staffers hurt in another assault

  • The entrance to the Chester Mental Health Center is shown in April 2017.

    The entrance to the Chester Mental Health Center is shown in April 2017.
    Herald Tribune File Photo

By Staff Report
updated: 10/3/2017 10:19 AM

At least six Chester Mental Health Center staff members were injured in a staff assault that occurred at the facility on Oct. 1, according to AFSCME Council 31 staff representative Ty Peterson.

Peterson told the Herald Tribune the incident started around mid-morning when a patient became aggravated and started tossing furniture.

"(The security therapy aides) tried to get him into a room and then he came back out still aggravated and started swinging," Peterson said.

Peterson said only one patient was involved in the altercation and it was a different patient than the one who nearly choked STA Geoff Forsting to death on Sept. 26. He added the union is still compiling all the details of the incident.

"We haven't found out a whole lot thus far," he said. "We know several were injured by one patient and the extent of their injuries is unknown, but thought to be minor."

On Monday, Peterson and AFSCME Local 424 President Randy Clover met with State Rep. Jerry Costello II (D-Smithton) at the chapter office in Chester about the staff assaults issue.

"It is hard for us because it is a mental health facility and getting the public to see how dangerous this facility is compared to others is a start to correcting the issue of staff assaults from patients," Peterson said.

Peterson said Costello has been in "constant contact" with the union about the issue. As of Monday, CMHC was said to have 276 patients and around 550 staff, including 400 of what Peterson called "front-line" employees. Peterson reiterated that it is standard policy that it takes two staff members before a patient can be touched.

"We're talking to legislators for ways to prevent these incidents from happening to our union members," he said.