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Continued: Bloody killing at St. Peter mental hospital called an 'unacceptable failure' of oversight

In January 2013, a medical doctor failed to respond to multiple calls about a patient at the hospital who had suffered a stroke. As a result, the patient had to wait four hours before receiving proper emergency medical care, a state investigation found.

Jesson stressed that she did not see staffing levels as an issue surrounding Douglas’ death.

“If someone says we need more staff, I’m willing to listen. But, there was a 1-2 staff ratio at the time of the death — seven employees and 14 patients,” she said. “The issue was that staff were inside the (security) bubble rather than mixing with the patients.”

John Collins, a union steward who has worked at the treatment center for nearly eight years, said managers have put staff in “compromised” situations that he believes endanger everyone.

“We deal with it, cross our fingers and hope like hell nobody gets hurt. Well, guess what, a murder happened,” Collins said.

He said that less than a week before, Whitefeather had broken the nose of another patient on another ward and he was moved to the high-security unit where he was allowed to walk around freely. Collins acknowledged that staff are often staying inside the secured unit station, “because we don’t know what we can or cannot do any longer.”

Chris Serres • 612-673-4308

Twitter: @chrisserres

Paul McEnroe • 612-673-1745

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