FULTON, Mo. - Fulton State Hospital is the most dangerous place for state workers, but they have actually reported fewer injuries compared to five years ago.
ABC 17 requested the latest figures on injuries from the Missouri Department of Mental Health. The numbers show a near 60 percent decrease in staff injuries since 2009. Although, when comparing this year to last year, the average injuries per month has increased.
The numbers do show that staff injuries from patients are a problem, but according to the figures, the hospital ranks similar to the injury rates of other psychiatric hospitals, including those at lower security levels.
In the last five years, the number of staff injuries has decreased from 1,022 in 2009 to only 422 so far this fiscal year. Those incidents range from scratches and scrapes to more severe injuries. In fact, those have decreased from 43 in 2009 to only 10 this year.
The hospital recognizes it needs a balance of modern facilities and new strategies to better manage patient behavior. So, the hospital started with its strategies, introducing the use of X-ray and metal detection machines and staffs members carrying personal alarm systems.
The hospital also raised the pay for employees working in the most dangerous wards to recruit the most experienced staff to that area. The hospital uses the Cole County Sheriff's Department to house dangerous patients awaiting a court hearing. Management hopes these strategies will reduce serious injuries by 50 percent by the end of the fiscal year.
Right now, State Representative Jeanie Riddle sponsors a bill that proposes legislation with all hospitals in mind. The bill would allow nurses to restrain patients without a doctor's approval to protect themselves and the patient.
Missouri lawmakers from both sides, as well as, the Governor agree a new Fulton State Hospital is the way to solve current issues. They're now working out the best plans to pay the nearly $200 million facility.