Fulton State Hospital employee speaks out about dangerous working conditions
A Fulton State Hospital employee is coming forward, detailing the brutal working conditions at the state's only maximum security psychiatric facility.
Larry Pierson has worked security at the hospital for three years. During his time there, he says he has been assaulted 40 times and ended up in the emergency room six times.
He was recently fired, then rehired, after allegedly being attacked by a client at the facility.
He told ABC 17 News that working at the mental hospital has been far more dangerous than his 15 years working for the Department of Corrections.
"I've been kicked, I've been hit, I've been stabbed, and I've been bitten," he said.
He says those injuries are normal for everyday work at the Fulton State Hospital, where fearing for his life just became a way of life.
"I thought he was going to kill me," Pierson recalled.
Three months ago, an average day at work became a day he would relive over and over, after Pierson got attacked and then fired.
"I got fired for my hand touching the back of his neck while he was stabbing me," Pierson said. ""I filed a grievance, went to them and they gave me my job back. With a month without pay, all because my hand touched the back of his neck."
Touching a patient's face or neck is a direct violation and a fireable offense for employees, something Pierson says is hard to avoid when your life is flashing before your eyes.
"You already stabbed me once and he went back to stab me again," he said. "I just grabbed him by the back of the neck and pulled him close."
Pierson's neck injury was far more serious. It landed him in the hospital for about a week and after surgery, doctors told him he would never return to work. If he got hit in the face or neck again, it could paralyze him.
"I see young girls get hurt and assaulted every day," he said. "They have no clue when they come in there. They think it's a really nice place. They think they're here to help people, but they attack and they'll beat them down and if you're not fast enough, they'll kill somebody."
Pierson says he saw injured employees get sent to the ER two or three times per week and morale is as low as it can get. He says employees are scared to speak up to and confront administrators.
"Are employees up there scared to talk to the media?" ABC 17's Daniel Winn asked.
"Yeah, they need a job," Pierson said.
"Will they be fired if they talk to the media?" Winn asked.
"They'll figure out a way. All [administrators] have to do is say you did something. It's really easy," Pierson said.
Pierson says he is speaking out because he wants people to know how dangerous it is to work at the Fulton State Hospital.
He says no job is worth someone's health, or even worse, their life.
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