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Tanner Siegworth, Deseret News
Kaitlynne Jones, a health care worker who endured an 18-minute attack from a patient with special needs, is now lobbying for industry-wide change.

LAYTON — A health care worker who endured an 18-minute attack from a patient with special needs said Tuesday she is now lobbying for industrywide change.

“I really do have to fight,” Kaitlynne Jones, 20, said, noting numerous other health care professionals across the country had been injured while caring for patients. “I need to stand up and be a voice for people who are put in situations like this — like me.”

Jones said she was working at a Chrysalis group home in Layton on July 20 when she was assaulted by a patient during a dispute over the patient’s individualized care plan.

“I was thrown to the ground, and from there I was stomped on, spit on, kicked, my head was stomped on,” she said, describing one sequence of the protracted attack.

Layton Police Sgt. Clint Bobrowski said detectives are currently screening the case with the Davis County Attorney's Office and are recommending felony aggravated assault charges against the man. No charges have been filed as of Wednesday.

Jones said she suffered a traumatic brain injury, an injury to an eye that might eventually result in blindness, a herniated disc and a torn rotator cuff.

She said she cannot currently drive her car,and has had to move back home with her family.

“And that was all just because my employer didn’t feel it necessary to disclose information,” Jones said.

Jones said she later learned that the same patient had attacked another worker the year before, but she claimed the company policy is to remove "bad behaviors" from the patient’s history after three months if it hasn’t been repeated.

Chrysalis CEO Marc Christensen denied that such a policy exists. "We have no policy or practice of removing incidents from a patient's profile after three months," he said in a statement.

The statement did not address any specifics of Jones’ case, but noted that the company contracts with the state to provide services and complies with all requirements regarding client incidents. He said all service providers contracting with the state maintain records for at least eight years.

“I feel horrible this happened,” Christensen stated. “Working with people with intellectual disabilities can be unpredictable. Like all of us, they are people with emotions and frustrations. Most are not malicious in their intent, but their understanding of the consequences of their actions can be lacking.”

Jones believes the extended histories of patients should be available to all health care workers who interact with them.

Charlie Luke, the executive director of the Utah Association of Community Services — of which Chrysalis is a member agency — said that extended history should already be available through individual providers.

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Jones said she would like to see changes in statutes to improve protections for those in the health care industry, and she was working Tuesday on a letter to members of Utah’s congressional delegation as well as to state lawmakers.

She would like to see mandatory full disclosures of patient histories, quarterly training on self-defense and de-escalation techniques and a requirement to have multiple staff members on shift at all times at health care facilities.

“I took a shift alone in a house with somebody who I thought it was safe to be around, and it wasn’t,” Jones said.