Rex announces staff, policy changes following incident

Rex Hospital announced changes to staff and policy following a more than two-week long incident involving a violent behavioral health patient.

The patient was treated at the Rex Emergency Department for more than two weeks until he could transfer to the appropriate state facility, Rex said in a statement Thursday.

While the patient was at Rex, the hospital said staff followed the hospital’s existing policies while attempted to care and protect the patient while protecting themselves.

Since the incident, Sherry Whitt stepped down from her position as director of the Rex Emergency Department.

Rex said with Whitt stepping down, it would “ensure the long-term stability of the Rex ED, and allow nurses and other co-workers to focus on their mission of providing excellent care to all patients.”

Long-time nursing leader at Rex Joanne Kuszaj has been named interim director of the Rex Emergency Department.

Along with the staff change, Rex has made adjustments to its policies that deal with response to “that extreme situation.”

The changes were made in part after state health surveyors expressed concerns. Those state regulators were working on behalf of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Those surveyors have since approved of Rex’s changes, according to Rex.

“This has been an ongoing learning experience for Rex. Our executives will continue to address concerns raised by our staff and brought to light by this situation,” Rex spokesman Alan Wolf said in a statement.

The hospital said it realizes emergency departments are often stopovers for patients who need more specialized care.

But it said hospital emergency departments are not suited to treat or help behavioral health patients.

Copyright 2015 WNCN. All rights reserved.

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