N.H. Hospital CEO to review attacks on mental health workers

  • New Hampshire Hospital in Concord as seen on Tuesday, July 5, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor file) Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor file

Monitor staff
Published: 10/25/2017 9:12:51 PM

Facing a string of recent injuries to state mental health workers, New Hampshire Hospital’s incoming CEO is calling for a review.

Lori Shibinette, began in her post Oct. 20, will study whether state-run health facilities including New Hampshire Hospital are experiencing an uptick in violent incidents in which patients injure health workers, she told reporters Wednesday.

Shibinette will also conduct a separate long-term review into the department’s policies relating to workplace incidents, she said.

Since August, the Department of Health and Human Services has submitted 10 cases of state worker injuries to the Executive Council for review. Many of the injuries have been described as severe, with some employees unable to return to their posts for months. Graphic summaries of the incidents – including the victims’ names – have been published in the council’s agendas and made public ahead of meetings.

The council is required to sign off on each incident to allow the worker to stay on the payroll.

But the incidents have raised questions about workplace conditions for mental health workers – as well as privacy concerns. Executive Councilors Chris Pappas, D-Manchester, and Joseph Kenney, R-Union, have urged DHHS to find a way to redact the names in public documents.

Addressing the council meeting Wednesday – during which four injury cases were being presented – Shibinette said the reviews would be conducted to determine whether the department should institute new training methods or operating procedures.

Analyzing the past cases will likely take 30 to 45 days; the review of practices and training will likely take months, she added.

In the future, the department will carry out a root-cause analysis on any injuries that rise to the level of the Executive Council, according to Shibinette.

“What my plan is is to look at the last five years and really kind of look at what’s come to this council ... and see if there’s patterns,” Shibinette said after the meeting. “So, take that information that I gather in the last five years and really do an assessment on what we need to do differently.”

(Ethan DeWitt can be reached at edewitt@cmonitor.com, or on Twitter at @edewittNH.)

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