OSHA unaware of Sauk County workplace attack

January 24, 2018 GMT

A federal agency charged with ensuring workplace safety said Tuesday it was not aware of a Dec. 17 incident in which a Sauk County caregiver allegedly was battered by a violent mental patient.

“OSHA was not informed of the incident,” said Occupational Safety and Health Administration spokesperson Scott Allen. “A business is required to report if a worker was hospitalized due to an injury at work, but we have not been informed of any hospitalization due to that incident.”

Last week, the Sauk County District Attorney’s Office charged the patient, Jeremy R. Felix, 31, of Reedsburg, with felony aggravated battery, as well as misdemeanor counts of criminal property damage and disorderly conduct.

Felix lives in a locked home within the town of Winfield, just north of Reedsburg. The facility is operated by a company called Dungarvin Wisconsin, which receives funds through the state’s Family Care program.

According to the criminal complaint, Felix became upset with a Dungarvin employee, punched through an office door, grabbed her hair, and pulled her through the door. The employee hid from Felix, and later escaped through the home’s main entrance.

The complaint does not say whether she was hospitalized.

Felix has a history of attacking and injuring caregivers. His placement in a community setting has been controversial among neighbors. In April 2016, he escaped from his town of Winfield home and later was captured by a sheriff’s deputy.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has said federal law requires patients with mental disorders and intellectual disabilities to receive care “in the least restrictive treatment alternative appropriate to their needs.”

In January 2014, an OSHA review found that Dungarvin staff that cared for Felix at a Baraboo home had been subjected to “hazardous conditions associated with workplace violence.”

Dungarvin state director Julie Josephitis declined to answer specific questions about the Dec. 17 incident, Felix and the employee, citing privacy concerns.

“Dungarvin has provided services to individuals with disabilities across the country for the past 40 years,” she said in an email. “We take very seriously the safety of the people we support and our employees. Due to privacy considerations, we are not able to comment on this specific incident.”

A judge Monday issued a warrant for Felix’s arrest. No court dates have been scheduled.