A Fulton State Hospital employee told state Rep. Jeanie Riddle last August that he sometimes had to work double shifts several days in a row.
His story led Riddle to file a bill prohibiting employees at Missouri's medium- and maximum-security mental health care facilities from being forced to work more than 12 hours in any 24-hour period - unless the governor declares a state of emergency.
And that bill now is on its way to the Senate, after the House passed it Thursday on a 149-0 vote.
"Employees at Fulton State Hospital deserve to work in the safest environment possible," Riddle said in a news release. "Having to work multiple back-to-back, eight-hour shifts can result in overall poor health and slower reaction times.
"This is unacceptable and can make life very difficult for the employees and their families."
Riddle said the problem occurs when an employee doesn't arrive at work for a scheduled shift, but the hospital must maintain its required minimum staffing patterns.
"When shift replacements do not arrive, then other employees must stay to supervise clients and perform other necessary duties," she explained. "It is not uncommon for this to occur frequently throughout the week."