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OSHA launches investigation into Baraboo mental health facility

By Theo Keith, tkeith@wisctv.com
Published On: Jul 25 2013 10:35:24 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 26 2013 07:30:42 AM CDT

Photo courtesy Waushara County Sheriff's Department

Jeremy Felix

MADISON, Wis. -

The federal government watchdog for worker safety has launched an investigation into the Baraboo mental health facility where a client has injured at least 10 employees.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration started the investigation Thursday after seeing the injury reports from Baraboo Police.

Jeremy Felix, 26, is the mentally disabled client staying at the home. In 2010, Felix was convicted of attempting to strangle and suffocate a care worker at a Wisconsin Rapids facility, and police said his violence has continued against workers in Baraboo.

"We consider (launching an investigation) a big deal," said Scott Allen, a Chicago-based spokesman for OSHA. "We'll start investigating the company and talking with the employer, employees, potential witnesses, in trying to determine exactly what happened at this facility."

Compliance officers from the federal agency's Madison office will likely visit the home multiple times to collect information, Allen said. He said the case may take months.

OSHA has the power to fine companies for not complying with worker safety standards.

The facility, 616 Sauk Avenue in Baraboo, is owned and operated by mental health care provider Dungarvin Wisconsin LLC.

A Dungarvin spokeswoman referred WISC-TV to the state contractor in charge of Felix's case, Care Wisconsin.

Cathy Lanser, a Care Wisconsin spokeswoman, declined to answer questions and later didn't respond to a request seeking comment about the OSHA investigation.

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