Patient faces charges in court after allegedly slashing face of healthcare worker

A patient in a program that helps people with mental illness and substance abuse problems was arraigned today in connection with a knife attack on a staffer who was transporting him home in Fitchburg.

Scott Smith, 36, a Community Healthlink worker needed 22 stitches to his face after he was allegedly attacked by Keyon Johnston, 31, with a utility knife, similar to a box cutter, officials said.

Johnston allegedly slashed the face of with a knife equal to a box cutter.

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Johnston was arraigned in Fitchburg District Court on the charge of causing mayhem, said Tim Connolly, spokesman for the Worcester County District Attorney’s office. He entered a plea of not guilty.

Johnston was held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing scheduled for Aug. 22.

Community Healthlink, a member of UMass Memorial Health, offers recovery for individuals with mental illness, substance abuse problems, and homeless individuals, according to its website.

Smith, who lives in New Hampshire, was transporting Johnston to his home about 4 p.m. Wednesday when he grew impatient after the Healthlink worker didn’t give him the pack of Nicorette gum he had requested, said Fitchburg Police Sergeant Glenn Fossa.

“This is what you get for lying to me,” Johnston allegedly said to Smith just before slashing his the right side of his face, causing a deep laceration, Fossa said.

Smith stopped the vehicle and ran to the police headquarters, which is about a block from Johnston’s home. A police dispatcher said Smith had a lot of blood on him when he arrived, according to Fossa.

Smith was immediately transported to the hospital, and Johnston was also transported to the hospital with a police escort a short time later, Fossa said.

“The staff member was treated and released and is home recovering,” said Deborah Ekstrom, president and CEO of Community Healthlink.