• Retreat adolescent unit incident sends staff members to ER
     | July 25,2014

    BRATTLEBORO — An altercation between two teenage patients at the Brattleboro Retreat’s adolescent unit escalated into a dispute that sent four staff members to a hospital emergency room Sunday afternoon, a Retreat spokesman has confirmed.

    Peter Albert, vice president of government affairs for the private psychiatric hospital, said staff members were treated for bruises and scratches at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital’s emergency room after they had gone there by car.

    No patients were injured as a result of the incident, he said.

    He said other Retreat staff members were treated at the psychiatric hospital’s own clinic as a result of injuries they received in the incident.

    “There were no broken bones,” he said, adding that the injured personnel were told to take Monday off.

    They all returned to work on Tuesday, he said.

    The Retreat is part of the state’s network for treating the mentally ill since the closure of the old State Hospital in Waterbury after Tropical Storm Irene flooded the state complex there.

    Albert said the Retreat reported the incident to state officials as it is required to do if there is physical contact.

    “We are a reporting agency,” he said.

    Albert said that the Brattleboro Police were not called and not involved in the incident, which he said was handled by Retreat staff.

    He said the incident was sparked by “inappropriate comments” made by a teenaged boy to a teenaged girl, both patients on the Retreat’s inpatient adolescent unit on the third floor of the Tyler building.

    One patient “took a swing,” and other patients “took sides” and the incident escalated over what he described as a “protracted” period of time.

    Albert refused to say how old the teenaged boy was whose remarks prompted the incident; neither would he say whether he was a state patient.

    Albert said many of the adolescents on the unit have been “traumatized” and don’t have the verbal skills to express themselves.

    Many of the children in the unit have a history of “significant trauma,” he said. “They get ‘triggered,’ and it gets physical,” he said.

    “People get hit, it’s one of the parts of treatment,” he said.

    He said he didn’t know how many patients or personnel were involved in the altercation.

    But he said there was an immediate debriefing of staff members and patients about the incident.

    Frank Reed, deputy commissioner of the Department of Mental Health, said Tuesday that the event would be reviewed by the Department of Children and Families, and if necessary, an investigation would be held.

    “The event would be reviewed, assessed and then determined whether it would warrant any action,” he said.

    “There are always events that happen,” he said, noting there was more of a potential for a physical “interaction” with adolescent patients.

    Luciana DiRuocco, a spokeswoman for the Department of Children and Families, said the state agency couldn’t discuss any report of abuse or neglect of a child.

    @Tagline:susan.smallheer @rutlandherald.com

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