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Corrections deputy attacked by inmate nearly 8 years ago still fighting for workers’ comp

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PIERCE COUNTY — A Pierce County correctional deputy attacked on the job nearly eight years ago is now in a fight to determine who will pay for her additional medical treatment. Ann VanZuyt said her workers’ compensation claim remains in limbo.

“Oh my gosh, it’s been horrible,” said VanZuyt.

Court records show she was attacked by an inmate in 2007. VanZuyt suffered injuries to her neck and back.

“He grabbed me by the pony tail and slammed me across the desk,” said VanZuyt.

Since then, she has had multiple surgeries, which she says were covered by workers’ comp, but medical problems still persist.

“I’ve had a lot of secondary issues going on after back surgery, numbness tingling of the leg, numbness tingling of the female organs, bladder issues,” said VanZuyt.

Dr. Richard Seroussi says he is unable to move forward with any treatment for VanZuyt because the workers’ comp officials insist there be more independent medical evaluations. Dr. Seroussi claims the process has taken months and is now at a standstill.

“Why are we withholding it (treatment) from this woman who was serving the public good,” said Seroussi.

Penser North America is the contracted third party administrator of Pierce County’s self-insured Washington state workers’ compensation program.  Both the county and Penser would not comment on any aspect of VanZuyt’s claim, citing medical privacy restrictions.

Penser president Phil Valdens said in a statement, “Washington state workers’ compensation is a medically driven system.   A third party administrator cannot make arbitrary decisions on claims.  Our actions are dictated by medical opinion.”

He also added, “Penser has been working within the Labor & Industries community for many years and prides itself on our good reputation and standing within the communities in which we provide services.”

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries also cannot release information on cases. However, a spokesperson said an injured worker can file a grievance with the state or dispute the findings when a claim is closed.

For VanZuyt, she’s unsure if she’ll ever fully recover, but she believes additional treatment will improve her quality of life.

“It’s just a never-ending situation that doesn’t have any answers,” said VanZuyt.

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  • Jay R

    Penser has been working within the Labor & Industries community for many years and prides itself on our good reputation and standing within the communities in which we provide services.” Really, Penser does this to all Pierce County employees. Stall and hope the employee stops seeking treatment they deserve. The County then threatens to terminate the employee if they don’t return to work within 12 months, though Penser stalls for months to approve treatment. They did the same thing to me. Horrible treatment.

  • Kenneth Briggs

    yep the county and state should get it right and give this lady the medical care she needs now , but it is good that other folks hear and read about this . the damn county and state are hoping that you will give up and die . go see other doctors and a few real good lawyers and sue the hell out of them .

  • klj

    You know full well they’d be treating that scum who attacked her and they’d do it for free and right away. It’s sickening the way working people are mistreated while the scum criminals are treated like gold.

    • Jay R.

      Unfortunately, many of my co-workers (my friends), males and females both, have been assaulted doing this thankless job. The public never sees the things we have to deal with, on a daily basis. We do have both male and female offenders that we deal with.