"I ask you to immediately impose a moratorium on unaccompanied visits to mentally ill clients," the president of a state workers' union urged in a letter to Gov. Pataki Monday, a week after a nurse was bludgeoned to death in Buffalo during a routine home visit.
Judith Scanlon, 44, was killed during a visit to Diane Wylie in her home on West Ferry Street.
Mrs. Wylie, 45, who apparently feared mental health officials planned to take her 4-year-old daughter from her, has been charged with second-degree murder and remains in the Erie County Holding Center awaiting a court appearance Wednesday.
Mrs. Scanlon was working as an intensive case manager for the Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers, a human services agency, and making regular home visits to former psychiatric patients such as Mrs. Wylie.
"This tragedy might have been prevented if Mrs. Scanlon were required to make home visits with a co-worker, much like police officers are required to work in pairs because of the danger inherent in their jobs," said Roger Benson, president of the New York State Public Employees Federation, which represents 53,000 workers, including 9,000 nurses.
The union, which has criticized several aspects of the state's mental health policies since Mrs. Scanlon's death, also wants the state to stop requiring workers to transport clients to meetings and appointments.
Pataki's office had no immediate comment.