ST. PETER, Minn. (WCCO) — Minnesota’s top political leaders toured the state’s toughest security hospital at St. Peter Monday to assess how to fix the aging and outdated facility.
Staffers complain some of the units are dangerous, and a federal judge has ordered the state to immediately overhaul sex offender treatment programs at St. Peter and Moose Lake.READ MORE: Target CEO Blaims 'Unexpectedly High Costs' For Poor First Quarter Profit
Hospital staffers complain about dangerous working conditions in the units housing dangerous mentally ill patients, and some of the office buildings are from the 60s — that is, the 1860s.
The unusual tour of St. Peter Security Hospital comes amid reports of violence against staffers and a below-standard treatment programs. In a rare show of unity, Democratic Governor Mark Dayton and Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt agreed on the need to act.
“We care a lot about the people who are working here,” Daudt said. “We want to be sure they are working in a safe environment.”
The original 1866 hospital building is still in use — one floor houses the 21st century IT department. Workers in the 1930s administration building use 64 window air conditioners to keep cool. Conditions inside the 1960s Pexton Hall — home for mentally ill patients — are worrying the governor most.READ MORE: A's End Four-Game Losing Streak Against Twins With 5-2 Win
“Just the unsightliness you can see going down the long corridors — you can see how difficult it is, even with the cameras that have been installed, to see everything that is going on,” Dayton said.
Gov. Dayton is asking the legislature for $70 million dollars for the security hospital in Anoka and $14.5 million for the sex offender program in St. Peter. That’s a tough sell at the Republican legislature — but the House Speaker says he came away convinced.
“The eye opening thing for me is making sure that we are keeping the staff who are working here safe,” Daudt said.
The governor and Republican leaders have agreed to approve the money in a special session to improve conditions at all the state’s security hospitals, but they still haven’t hammered out details for that special session.MORE NEWS: Kayla McBride Leads Lynx To First Win Of Season
Gov. Dayton said Monday that the window is closing fast for everyone to make up their minds.