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Detox employee cited for client abuse | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota

imagesPublished November 27, 2013, 01:58 PM

Detox employee cited for client abuse

An employee of the Duluth Detoxification Center abused a client who was having a panic attack and trying to “go to the hospital,” a state agency concluded in a report issued this week.

By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune

An employee of the Duluth Detoxification Center abused a client who was having a panic attack and trying to “go to the hospital,” a state agency concluded in a report issued this week.

But the Minnesota Department of Human Services issued no sanctions, with findings that the facility was not to blame and that the employee could continue to work with vulnerable adults as long as there are no further incidents.

The report, labeled an “investigative memorandum,” was issued on Monday but centered around an incident that occurred on Feb. 27. As is normal with DHS reports, it conceals the identity and gender of the client, the employee and everyone else who was interviewed.

According to investigator Marie Tierney’s report, the client had been admitted to the detox center on Feb. 27. When the client started to go through a door between a living area and the nurses’ station “in an attempt to go to the hospital,” the employee pushed on the other side of the door. The client claimed the employee then kicked the client several times over two or three minutes, causing bruises.

The employee admitted pushing hard against the door and kicking the client’s fingers to get the client’s hand away from the door knob, but denied any additional kicks. Another client who was present at the time of the incident told Tierney the staffer’s actions didn’t look intentional and didn’t appear to be enough to cause injuries.

Other staff members told Tierney that the center’s policy is to step back and allow clients to go through if they’re trying to leave the facility.

No video of the incident was available, the report said, and no injuries were documented.

Nonetheless, there was enough evidence to conclude that physical abuse occurred, Tierney reported. If another act of abuse by the same employee were substantiated, it would be considered “recurring,” and the employee would be disqualified from working with vulnerable adults, the report said.

Although the detox center itself wasn’t faulted, Tierney recommended it clarify its policies and procedures and make sure all staff are aware of their responsibilities.

The Center for Alcohol and Drug Treatment operates the detox center. Executive Director Gary Olson did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The detox center is where Duluth police officer Richard Jouppi was involved in an altercation with an intoxicated man on Sept. 21, 2012. That incident, which was preserved on video, led to misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct charges being filed against Jouppi. But he was acquitted by a Pine County jury last week.

via Detox employee cited for client abuse | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota.

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