For Immediate Release
Contact: Bernadette Ellorin, 347.244.8953
NEW YORK CITY, October 2, 2012 — A wave of violent assaults is hitting the 11 hospitals in the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) system. And in each case, inadequate nurse staffing played a big role.
For the past 6 months, reports of workplace violence have gone up from Bellevue, Kings County, Queens, Woodhull, Elmhurst and other hospitals. There reports include incidents of grabbing, choking, shoving, punching, and other forms of violence, and some nurses have suffered broken bones and other serious injuries requiring medical attention and lost work time.
Nurses say having adequate staff on units would prevent most assaults. They are tired of having their complaints about staffing ignored. The lack of adequate staffing at HHC facilities is putting both patients and staff at risk of harm.
Though nurses’ first priority is to increase staffing and implement other measures to prevent assaults, they are also being victimized a second time in the aftermath of the attacks. Management often tries to sweep reports of incidents from RNs under the rug, finding excuses to not take them seriously or to downgrade the charges. Assaulted nurses are often accused of causing or contributing to the attacks, and at times have been subject to discipline. Attempts to get protection from hospital police and local NYPD precincts are also often ignored.
NYSNA nurses are no longer willing to allow short staffing and violence to be a part of their job. They are fighting back, and some HHC hospitals are being forced to take action.
When a Queens Hospital nurse was assaulted, Hospital Police administrators refused to help her press charges and tried to get her to drop the matter, forcing her to go to the local precinct to file charges.
Queens Hospital nurses stepped up their advocacy and demanded a meeting with the hospital CEO. At Queens Hospital the nurses won a 9-step action plan from management and hospital police to deal with violence on the job.
“When a nurse reports an assault, they run into too many barriers,” says Lindella Artman, an RN at Queens Hospital who was central to winning the new policy at the hospital. “They’ll tell you ‘This is not reportable.’ Hospital Police have needed a clear policy for a long time.”
NYSNA has developed its own 10-point plan of action on Workplace Violence against Nurses, at the top of which is the implementation of minimum staffing ratios to meet patient care needs and prevent incidents of workplace violence. The plan also calls for greater nurse involvement in addressing workplace violence issues and demands that hospital administrators, hospital police commanders and NYPD precincts step up to treat assaults on nurses with the seriousness that our nurses deserve.
NYSNA is currently addressing other reports of nurse assault in HHC hospitals as it continues to push for the passage of safe staffing legislation in Albany.
“Nurses deserve the protection of the law,” said Eurica Walters-Rodney, an RN at Woodhull Hospital. “We need to stop sending the wrong message to nurses and our patients – it teaches people that they can hurt a nurse and get away with it.”
The New York State Nurses Association is the voice for nursing in the Empire State. With more than 37,000 members, it is New York’s largest professional association and union for registered nurses. The association represents registered nurses, and some all-professional bargaining units, in New York and New Jersey. It supports nurses and nursing practice through education, research, legislative advocacy, and collective bargaining.
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