Not Giving Up Until Assaults on Healthcare Workers is No Longer Considered “Part of the Job”!

SEIU Nurse Alliance of California is dedicating another year, and every year here after, to Workplace Violence Prevention

In October 2009, with the support of SEIU 121RN and Assemblyman John A. Perez, California took a step towards keeping hospital employees safe from workplace violence by passing AB 1083 legislation, Health Facilities:Security Plans. Hospitals are now required to conduct a security and safety assessment at least annually. Using that assessment, develop and annually update the security and safety plan with measures to protect personnel, patients and visitors from aggressive or violent behavior. In developing this plan, the hospital will consult with affected employees, including the recognized collective bargaining agents(s) and members of the hospital staff. These hospitals shall track incidents of aggressive or violent behavior as part of the quality assessment and improvement program and for the purposes of developing a security plan to deter and manage further aggressive or violent acts of a similar nature. As part of the security plan, a hospital shall adopt security policies including, but not limited to, personnel training policies designed to protect personnel, patients and visitors. The hospital shall have sufficient personnel to provide security pursuant to the security plan developed. Any act of assault that results in injury or involves the use of a firearm or other dangerous weapon, against any on-duty hospital personnel shall be reported to the local law enforcement agency within 72 hours of the incident. Any other assault or battery against any on-duty hospital personnel may be reported to the local law enforcement agency within 72 hours of the incident. No health facility or employee of a health facility who reports a known or suspected instance of assault or battery shall be civilly or criminally liable for any report required by this section.

Fast Forward to October 2010 and We Discover that law is too little too late, when Napa State Hospital psychiatric technician, Donna Gross, was strangled and killed by a forensic patient on the hospital grounds. The following January, SEIU Local 1000 joined forces with the other union organizations representing Napa employees and staged a rally, in honor of Donna, and the countless employees harmed in some way by patients at their facility.  Just a few days later, Cynthia Palomata, a nurse at the county jail in Martinez, CA was struck in the head with a lamp by an inmate while tending to the man.

Now It’s On! Suddenly Nurses and other Healthcare workers are no longer willing to accept that being assaulted while on the job is to be expected. We are learning that from being spat on to being hospitalized for injuries are all considered an assault. And it’s not just the Nurses in California, the outcry is occurring nationally.  As far as New York state , our voices are being heard and people are starting to listen. Even the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) are posting articles about the prevalence and need for workplace violence prevention. SEIU Health and Safety has had the right idea all along and now OSHA is weighing in and issued a compliance directive stating that Workplace Violence is a serious occupational hazard.

Until there is legislation, either at the State or Federal level, SEIU, Nurse Alliance and other labor and professional organizations are going to continue to pursue appropriate safety measures, legislation, collective bargaining language and regulations that protect nurses and healthcare personnel while at work. As one nurse so eloquently put it at the Napa State rally, “Death is NOT in my job description!”

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