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Four Cherry Hospital workers fired

Two health-care technicians and two nurses have lost their jobs following accusations they were involved in the beating of a mental health patient.

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William Johnson and Taniko Upton
RALEIGH, N.C. — Four Cherry Hospital employees have been fired in the wake of accusations related to a patient beating, a Department of Health and Human Services spokesman said Wednesday.

Taniko Dominique Upton, 33, and William Kenneth Johnson, 52, health-care technicians at the Goldsboro mental health facility, were charged Friday with simple assault on a handicapped person after accusations surfaced they beat a patient.

A full-time nurse and a part-time nurse involved in the same incident were also fired.

The firings come as federal regulators perform a top-down review of the psychiatric hospital's operations. Cherry Hospital is in jeopardy of losing its federal funding following numerous complaints of patient abuse and neglect.

The alleged assault occurred last Monday, the same day federal investigators released a report citing the hospital for patient neglect.

Steven Sabock, 50, died April 29 after being ignored for more than 22 hours while staff members played cards and watched TV in the same room.

The ward where Sabock died is closed, but none of the 16 staff members who were supposed to care for Sabock have been fired. One nurse did resign, however.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dempsey Benton said the discipline was "insufficient" and has asked the hospital's director to re-evaluate the disciplinary action.

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