Enfield state rep resigns seat following head injury

By NORA DOYLE-BURR

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 04-04-2023 5:13 PM

ENFIELD — State Rep. Joshua Adjutant, D-Enfield, has stepped down from his position after incurring a head injury last week at work as a security officer at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon.

Reached by phone on Tuesday, Adjutant, 28, said he has resigned his post effective April 1, after having been assaulted by a patient at work on Monday, March 27.

The head injury left him with “concern for aneurysm” and a concussion, workers’ compensation medical forms Adjutant tweeted on Monday said. His treatment plan includes a cerebral angiogram and neurosurgery. The documents say it is “undetermined” whether the injury has caused permanent impairment and it’s to be determined whether and when he can return to work.

He is currently experiencing headaches and “emotional instability,” he said.

Dartmouth Health spokeswoman Audra Burns declined to comment in a Tuesday email because DH does “not comment on cases involving personnel.”

Given the uncertainty of his condition, Adjutant said he didn’t want to wait to give up his seat and hopes that it can be filled quickly in a special election.

“There’s no reason to hog a Democratic seat like this,” he said.

Adjutant has been in the House since 2018. He faced no opposition for his election last fall and held the position of deputy Democratic floor leader this session.

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It’s not clear when a special election will be held. Reached by phone on Tuesday, Enfield Town Manager Ed Morris said of how the town will go about scheduling, “I’d have to look into that.”

Meanwhile, criminal charges in the March 27 assault have been filed in Grafton County Superior Court. Felix Onkundi Nyabuto, 25, has been charged with three counts of simple assault and second-degree assault, strangulation, according to the affidavit in the case.

Nyabuto was being treated for psychiatric care at DHMC when staff reported to security that he “was becoming agitated and had threatened violence,” the affidavit said. He began to drink water from a faucet in his room in a sink that contained urine so the medical staff asked security to bring him back to the bed.

At that point, Nyabuto asked if he was going to be restrained and the officers said yes. As they began to apply bed restraints, he became violent, hitting and kicking those around him, according to the affidavit.

With his hand, Nyabuto struck Adjutant on the back of his head, and also kicked him in the head. He also kicked another officer in the neck. Nyabuto pinned Adjutant’s head between his legs, which Adjutant later said impeded his breathing, the affidavit said.

At that point, additional staff arrived to restrain Nyabuto. Adjutant and the other officer went to DHMC’s trauma bay for evaluation.

Nyabuto was held on preventive detention and transported to the Grafton County House of Corrections. A voice message left for his public defender, Margaret Kettles, was not returned by deadline on Tuesday.

Injuries of health care workers have been discussed during at least one Legislative hearing in Montpelier this session, as VTDigger has reported. A bill, S.36, which would amend the Vermont Rules of Criminal Procedure to add three clauses specific to health care workers and health care facilities to the instances when law enforcement officers can arrest people without a warrant, passed the Senate late last month and is now in the House Judiciary Committee. A similar bill in New Hampshire, SB 58, which also seeks to expand the instances in which law enforcement can make arrests without warrants in instances involving health care workers and facilities, recently passed out of the Senate.

A law enacted last July in New Hampshire, RSA 151:53, requires health care facilities to implement and maintain workplace violence prevention programs and established a statewide health care workplace safety commission.

Adjutant said he’s supportive of legislative efforts to address workplace violence against health care workers. He declined to go into detail about what changes he would like to see, citing the ongoing criminal case, but said he hopes to see “more serious focus on threats of violence.”

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@ vnews.com or 603-727-3213. Valley News Staff Writer John Lippman contributed to this report.

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