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Emergency room doctor at St. Mary's in Detroit Lakes attacked by man suffering from mental illness

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An emergency room doctor at Essentia Health St. Mary's was attacked and beaten Saturday morning by a patient who was apparently suffering from mental illness.

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Dr. Mark Lindquist was attacked by the 46-year-old Detroit Lakes man at the hospital emergency department shortly before noon on Saturday, according to Detroit Lakes Police Chief Kel Keena.

"Basically we had somebody who snapped and went after a doctor," Keena said.

"He came in on his own seeking medical treatment," Keena said. "He got upset at the length of time it was taking and went berserk on the doctor -- assaulted him, kicked him, punched him..."

The incident started when police received a phone call from the emergency room asking for help dealing with a patient that was "agitated and swearing at staff," Keena said.

Officers were responding to that call when they "heard someone screaming for help on the EMS channel."

The hospital emergency department has a base radio used to communicate with medical helicopters. "We monitor that channel," Keena explained. "Then someone pushed a panic alarm ... I guess the situation went bad real fast."

Several police officers and three deputies rushed to the hospital.

Both the police department and the sheriff's department are just blocks from the hospital, and several officers responded from those locations, so they were on the scene in just over a minute, Keena said.

Lindquist still took a pounding.

"I got a concussion, a broken rib, cuts, abrasions, bruises ... it was very, very scary," Lindquist said Friday.

"I came back to work this morning for the first time," he added. "It's going OK so far."

Lindquist has worked in emergency medicine for 26 years. He worked at Dakota Hospital in Fargo until 1999 when he joined the staff at St. Mary's Hospital in Detroit Lakes.

He said the attack was "definitely" the worst incident he has experienced on the job.

"We have training in de-escalation, but sometimes the situation doesn't allow for it," he said.

He said he is grateful that no one else at the ER was injured in the attack and praised the police response.

"It (the response) seemed quick to me," he said. "I blacked out, so I don't know how long the assault took, but there were a lot of officers and we're very appreciative of their help."

A source at the hospital said administrators are considering taking steps to improve security at the emergency department, but the hospital public relations department did not return messages left Thursday and Friday.

"We're looking into all kinds of options (regarding security)" Lindquist said, adding that he wanted to defer to hospital administrators on that issue.

Keena said the man accused in the assault resisted officers when they arrived, and they had to physically subdue him and handcuff him.

He was restrained, but not arrested (which is why his name was not released) and was transported to a medical facility, presumably for treatment of mental illness, though Keena said he did not know to which facility the man was sent.

He said evidence was collected and sent to the Becker County Attorney's Office for consideration of charges.

No charging decision had been made as of Friday morning.

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