Protections for newly hired psychiatric hospital employees approved by Assembly committee

Protections for newly hired psychiatric hospital employees approved by Assembly committee

TRENTON, N.J. – A move to protect newly hired workers at the state’s four psychiatric hospitals was advanced by the Assembly Labor Committee Thursday.

Sean T. Kean

The bill (A259), sponsored by Assemblyman Sean Kean, makes new employees at state operated psychiatric institutions or correctional facilities eligible for accidental disability benefits.

Kean introduced the bill in response to a former constituent who was hurt while working at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital just days before becoming eligible for the benefits.  She was hit in the head by a patient and became permanently disabled.

“Employees working in inherently dangerous environments, such as psychiatric hospitals or correctional facilities, need to have these protections in place,” said Kean (R-Monmouth). “An employee who is attacked while on the job and made totally disabled should not have to shoulder the financial burden themselves. They deserve accidental disability just like everyone else.”

Nearly 5,000 workers are employed in the state’s psychiatric hospitals, including physicians, clinical providers, support staff and security.  Many of the patients they work with have been deemed a danger to themselves or others, and committed by the courts.

The Department of Human Services reported 179 assaults on workers at the institutions in 2015, four resulted in serious injury.

New Jersey began reforming its long-neglected psychiatric hospitals late last August.  The state Health Department outlined an 18-month plan to overhaul all four state psychiatric hospitals, which include Ancora in Winslow Township, Greystone Park in Parsippany, and the Ann Klein Forensic Center and Trenton Psychiatric Hospital, which are both located in Ewing.