Hamilton County jail nurse removed; accused of hitting inmate - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Hamilton County jail nurse removed; accused of hitting inmate

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN. (WRCB) -- For the second time this week, Channel 3 is learning that an encounter with an inmate has cost a staffer her job at the Hamilton County jail.

Earlier we told you that a booking sergeant has resigned amid suspicions she stole and used an inmate's food debit card.

Nailing down specifics has been difficult, for it involves two agencies: the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office and Erlanger Medical Center, which staffs the jail infirmary.

Erlanger spokeswoman Pat Charles tells Channel 3 it's a personnel issue. That all she can confirm is that Nurse Ruth Benjamin no longer works either at the jail or for the hospital.

Sheriff Jim Hammond says he won't have access to the incident report over the holiday weekend.

But he can confirm that Nurse Benjamin was removed after answering a couple of calls to aid an inmate in one of the jail's special-risk cells, a section commonly referred to as suicide watch.

The inmate hasn't been named.

But Nurse Benjamin reportedly believed the inmate simply was suffering drug or alcohol withdrawals, or DTs, not seizures.

But she was called to the cell a second time, when, Sheriff Hammond says,
staffers told him she slapped the inmate several times, and jail staff removed her.

Channel 3 tried to reach Nurse Benjamin by phone, only to find the numbers disconnected.

We found her husband Gervis Benjamin at their home in Ringgold.

"She had no problems with an inmate," Gervis says.

"She was just doing her job. But you need to talk to her, because I wasn't there. I don't know nothing about it."

Nurse Benjamin's husband wouldn't say where she was. And Channel 3 hasn't heard from her, since talking to him a couple of hours ago.

Sheriff Hammond calls it a clear violation of rules, saying, she wasn't following protocols, particularly the striking of an inmate.

Again, Erlanger is treating this as a personnel matter, meaning it can confirm only that Ruth Benjamin is no longer an employee.

Channel 3 asked Sheriff Hammond to see the incident report, once full staff returns on Monday to sort out the specifics.

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