Mawataka Mara works as a nurse at Sanriandro Hospital in Sanriandro, California. Since the beginning of the pandemic, visitors have been threatening the emergency department staff twice with guns. She and other hospital workers call it part of a worrying tendency. KHN’s Shelby Knowles
The emergency department at Sanriandro Hospital, where nurse Mawataka Mara works, was recently closed after a visitor who was excited about the COVID-19 restrictions prohibiting patient examinations threatened to bring a gun to a California facility. it was done.
This was not the first time the department faced a gun threat during a pandemic. Earlier that year, well-known psychiatric patients in the department became increasingly violent, spitting racial slurs, spitting at staff, lobbying punches, and finally Kamala. Threatened to shoot in the face.
“Violence has always been a problem,” Kamala said. “This pandemic really just added a magnifying glass.”
In the early days of the pandemic, Nightly celebration He praised the courage of frontline healthcare professionals. Eighteen months later, the same worker says he is experiencing a surprising increase in violence in the workplace.
A nurse testified to a Georgia Senate research committee in September that she had been severely attacked by a patient last spring and landed in the endoplasmic reticulum of her hospital.
At the Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri, a guard was summoned to the COVID unit when a visitor actively yelled at the nursing staff about the condition of his wife, a patient, said nurse Jen Coldwell.
In Missouri, Cox Medical Center Branson now publishes three times as many physical assaults on nurses. Panic button Can be worn on employee ID.
Hospital executives were already accustomed to workplace violence before the pandemic occurred. However, they say that stress from COVID exacerbates the problem, encouraging increased security, deescalation training, and a plea for politeness. Also, while many hospitals tackle this issue on their own, nurses and other workers are pushing federal law to create enforceable standards nationwide.
Paul Sarnese, Virtua Health New Jersey and President International Medical Security AssociationMany studies have shown that healthcare workers are far more likely to be victims of worsening assaults than workers in any other industry.
Federal data show that healthcare professionals are facing 73% of all non-fatal injuries caused by workplace violence In the United States in 2018. It’s too early to get comprehensive statistics from the pandemic.
Still, the violence could be even higher, as many of the victims of the patient’s assault did not report violence, said Michelle Wallace, chief nursing officer at the Grady Health System in Georgia.
“We say,’This is part of our job,'” said Wallace, who advocates more reports.
Coldwell said she was a nurse for less than three months when she was first assaulted at work — the patient spit on her. For the next four years, she estimated that she had not been assaulted orally or physically for more than three months.
“I don’t say it’s expected, but it’s accepted,” Coldwell said. “Many of us have mental health problems.”
Jackie Guts, Vice President of Safety and Preparation at the Missouri Hospital Association, said the lack of behavioral health resources spurred violence as patients seek treatment for ER mental health problems and substance use disorders. Said there is a possibility. Life can also spread inside the hospital, with violent episodes that started outside and continuing inside, and the presence of law enforcement officers increasing tensions.
NS February 2021 Report The National Nurses United (a union represented by both Kamala and Coldwell) offers another possible factor. It is the level of staff that does not give workers enough time to recognize an unstable situation and de-escalate.
The nurses in the Covid unit also have additional responsibilities during the pandemic. Other hospital staff usually perform tasks such as feeding patients, collecting blood, and cleaning the room, but nurses to minimize the number of workers visiting the negative pressure room where COVID patients are treated. Is actively engaged in these tasks. As the workload increases, the number of patients supervised by each nurse does not change, and it is time to listen to the concerns of visitors who fear the well-being of their loved ones, like a man who actively yelled at the nurses in Coldwell’s unit. Is almost nonexistent.
In September, 31% of hospital nurses Research The union said it had faced workplace violence since 22% in March.
Doctor Blythe GhatlandAtlanta-based Emory Healthcare hospital group president said violence escalated as the pandemic continued, especially during the recent wave of infections, hospitalizations and deaths.
“Frontline healthcare workers and first responders have been on the battlefield for 18 months,” Garland said. “They are exhausted.”
William Mahony, President Cox Medical Center BransonHe said the political anger of the nation would be carried out locally, especially when staff asked people to come to the hospital to wear masks.
Coldwell, a nurse in Kansas City, said the physical nature of COVID infections could contribute to increased violence. Patients with COVID units often have dangerously low oxygen levels.
“People have different political views — they’re either CNN or Fox News — and they start yelling at you and yelling at you,” Mahony said.
“When that happens, they get confused and very combative,” Coldwell said.
The pandemic gave the hospital an opportunity to revisit its safety protocol, Sarnese said. For example, limiting entry points and enabling COVID screening allows hospitals to attract visitors in front of security cameras.
The Research Medical Center recently hired additional security guards and provided deescalation training to complement video surveillance, said spokesman Christine Hamele.
In Branson, Mahoney’s hospital has strengthened security staff, installed cameras around the facility and brought dogs (“People don’t want to swing towards you when the German Shepherd is sitting there”). , We carried out escalation release training. To the panic button.
Some of those efforts are pre-pandemic, but the COVID crisis has already added urgency to the industry. Struggle To hire employees and maintain proper staffing. “The number one question we started asking was,’Are you going to keep me safe?'” Mahony said.
Some states, including California, There are rules to deal with hospital violence, and the National Nurses United should pass the Workplace Violence Prevention Act for medical and social service workers that hospitals require to be adopted by the US Senate. Seeking schedule To prevent violence.
“Any standard, after all, needs to be enforced,” said the union’s industrial hygienist, Roselin de Leon Minchi.
State nurses whose books have laws still face violence, but there are enforceable standards that can be pointed out when asking them to deal with the violence.Deleon Minced said the federal government Specification, Which passed it The April House aims to extend its protection to healthcare professionals nationwide.
Destiny, a nurse who testified in Georgia using only her name, has accused the patient of attacking her. The State Senate Committee is currently looking at next year’s bill.
Kamala said recent violence helped her hospital provide escalation training, but she was dissatisfied with it. Victoria Baladares, a spokesperson for San Riandro Hospital, said the hospital had not experienced increased workplace violence during the pandemic.
For health care workers like Kamala, all of this hostility towards them is far from the early days of the pandemic, when hospital workers were widespread. Welcome as a hero..
“I don’t want to be a hero,” Kamala said. “I want to be a mom and a nurse. I want to be considered the person who chose the career I like. They deserve to go to work and do it with confidence. And they deserve to do it. Don’t expect to be harmed. “
KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national news room that produces detailed journalism on health issues. KHN, along with policy analysis and polling, is one of three major operational programs: KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is a donated non-profit organization that provides the public with information on health issues.
“Are you going to keep me safe?” Hospital employees warn of rising violence-WUSFP Public Media
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