Florida State Hospital Employees Speak Out

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Now employees from the Department of Children and Families are looking to lawmakers to curtail future problems.

An overwhelming majority of DCF employees raised their hands in response to an inquiry about injuries sustained on the job.

On employee said, "I have a resident and I'm by myself. The resident hit me for no reason. I didn't say good morning to him, and luckily I kept him off me. All they did was put him in a room."

The employees held a meeting at City Hall in Chattahoochee with hopes of bringing the problem to the forefront.

Last week, DCF worker James Smith died on the job, suffering an apparent heart attack soon after he tried to break up a struggle between a fellow employee and a resident in the forensic unit.

Doris Cobb, a DCF employee, said, "It's a great loss and everybody is upset about it. We're afraid; we just don't know what to do."

Several of the employees say safety is their number one priority. They say they've spoken to administrators about the problem, and so far their cries have fallen on deaf ears.

But a DCF spokeswoman says the agency is addressing those problems.

Erin Geraghty, a DCF spokeswoman, says, "They're concerned about the safety of the staff on site. They also have to balance that with the residents who are there with their needs. We know that they are working with legislators.

DDF is hoping the legislators will allocate money to hire adequate staff. The employees are also hoping to get special-risk retirement for those working in dangerous jobs.