Sunland Employee dies after working 85 days straight

Jackson County

MARIANNA, Fla. (WMBB) — A Sunland employee is dead after working 85 days straight and her union representative said he believes exhaustion may have played a part in her death.

Hawlan Ebanks, 64, died on December 6, two weeks after her car accident on Sunland’s property.

She was placed in a coma for almost two weeks after the accident. Her coworkers called her union representative, Cris Serrano, to tell him what had happened.

“Given the history with the Agency of Persons with Disabilities with that facility as well as the Florida State hospital, our first instinct was to check her timesheets,” Serrano said. “We then asked to see all of her timesheets for the last 3 months and we were appalled by what we saw.”

Serrano said the timesheets he requested revealed Ebanks had worked every single day, 85 days in a row. However, he believes that number may be closer to 100.

“Several different levels of management have to see these types of timesheets and to think that a single person didn’t look at that and say ‘How is this person able to function when working this many hours,'” Serrano said. “It’s concerning and tells me that there’s just not enough people there who are really paying attention to the problem.”

Serrano said the union, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees has a contract with the agency that runs Sunland, the Agency for Persons Disabilities, to ensure a safe working environment.

“They will make a good-faith effort to provide these employees 16 hours off in between working 16-hour shifts,” Serrano said. “They also agreed to provide a safe and healthy working environment and that’s in writing. It’s been signed by the Governor, both parties had a chance to negotiate it and they’re not holding up their end of the bargain.”

At this point, Serrano said he believes exhaustion could be related to Ebanks’ accident. He said they’re going to do whatever it takes to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.

News 13 reached out to the Agency for Persons with Disabilities and they declined to comment.

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