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Truman VA Hospital officials standing by proceudres dealing with assaults

By Brad Johnson, Reporter, bradj@kmiz.com
Published On: Mar 26 2013 07:35:30 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 26 2013 07:44:54 PM CDT
COLUMBIA, Mo. -

As the man accused of beating another man to death at the Truman VA hospital in Columbia prepares for another court date next week, hospital leaders say safety measures are still solid at the facility and they aren't changing what they do.

Rudy Perez is charged with killing 78-year-old Robert Hill in February. He allegedly went after hill twice the day he killed him. We looked into the number of assaults that have happened at Truman VA over the last five years, and found out there is one about every other month.

All 31 assaults that have happened over the past five years inside the hospital include things like fights, verbal assaults, and a murder. Hospital leaders tell ABC 17 News knowing that, it's still not enough for them to change their procedures.

Hospital leaders say they do all they can, but there isn't much they can do to prevent all of the assaults from happening. One doctor says fewer than 25-percent of the patients are considered dangerous but all of the patients have the chance to become violent. That's when they have to contact authorities. VA police say even with the number of assaults that take place, there's nothing they can change.

"Our protocol is sound, there's no issues with anything response wise from the police department within the VA," Truman VA Medical Center Chief of Police Michael Kilburn said.

The reported assaults include a lot of disorderly conduct, threats to employees, and fights. Of the 31, most were made against staff members and weren't violent. One doctor tells us a lot of those would have become violent if not for training. But five were still violent toward them and they say there's nothing they can do to stop them, not even changing protocol.

"I think that's just going to be part of a staff member's experience, I think there's an appreciation that that comes with the environment of care," VA hospital psychologist Scott Sandstedt explains.

Patients are not kept apart based on behaviors or manner of care. VA police say they have to more or less just talk it out with the patients when situations arise. And when we started referencing the Rudy Perez murder case, he says it was unfortunate what happened, but they did follow protocol and there was still a murder.

"We act accordingly, we did what we had to do and the policy was set in place, and we followed that policy," Kilburn says.

Everybody we talked with that works in the hospital believes it's a safe place to work. But there is only so much they can do to prevent these types of accidents.

The hospital takes care of about 37,000 veterans around Mid-Missouri and covers almost all medical fields except pediatrics.

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