Patients beat employee at Summerville health facility, police say

SUMMERVILLE, SC (WCSC) - An employee at a troubled behavioral health facility in Summerville told police last week that he was beaten by two patients.

The employee of Palmetto Behavioral Health Center reported the incident to the Summerville Police Department on Thursday. He said that just before noon Wednesday, he was assaulted while working in a ward for patients that were on restriction for bad behavior.

The employee told police that an administrator walked in and told the patients why they were being held in that particular ward, which seemed to upset the patients. The employee said that a moment later, two of the patients punched him in the face until he fell to the ground, and then continued to punch him repeatedly.

Police said that the employee suffered a broken nose and a cut between his eyes that required stitches. The victim's eyes were badly swollen and discolored with red and black bruising.  His forehead was badly swollen as well.

The Palmetto Behavioral Health Center released the following statement regarding the most recent incident:

"A mental health technician at Palmetto Summerville Behavioral Health (Palmetto Summerville) was involved in a situation with a patient that resulted in the staff member sustaining injuries. This is an unfortunate incident and we are very concerned about the staff member and his recovery. Facility leaders have met with the employee and his family after the incident and assured them that his medical bills will be covered in accordance with South Carolina guidelines."

Doris Singleton, the director of the facility, told authorities that one of the patients involved in the assault had been discharged and sent back to a juvenile corrections facility in Washington, DC. The other patient involved is still housed at the facility.

This is the third incident to happen at the Palmetto Behavioral Health Center this year. In late April, several violent patients escaped the facility, and one teen even made it all the way back home to the District of Columbia before being apprehended.

Two more teens escaped for a short time earlier this month, and last week, DHEC opened an investigation into the facility, which is a psychiatric medical facility whose mission is to provide treatment to mentally challenged, psychiatrically disturbed adolescents. According to the center, all youth admitted to the facility have psychiatric diagnoses such as mood disorders, post traumatic stress disorder or ADHD.

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