For Immediate Release
Contact: Randi Hoffman, 212.785.0157, ext. 118
VALLEY STREAM, September 14, 2010 – For the second time in less than a month, the New York State Nurses Association today held a vigil for a nurse who was attacked and beaten by a psychiatric patient – highlighting the serious problem of violence against nurses. The nurses and their community allies are joining together to express their support for the Franklin Hospital nurse, who doesn’t want to be identified publicly. During the attack, the nurse suffered facial fractures and is facing multiple surgeries as part of her recovery.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that we find ourselves – again – gathering to support an injured colleague. It should not be dangerous to be a nurse,” said Lorraine Seidel, MA, RN, director of the Nurses Association’s Economic and General Welfare program. “We’ve won at the legislative level, as of November, it will be a felony to attack a nurse. Now, we need state regulators and hospital administrators to take all necessary steps to make sure nurses and hospital staff can do their jobs safely.”
The Franklin Hospital nurses, who are represented by the Nurses Association, gathered at 11 a.m. in front of the hospital at 900 Franklin Avenue. They were joined by colleagues from other Long Island hospitals and other local unions, as well as by State Senators Kemp Hannon (R – Nassau County) and Craig Johnson (D– Nassau County), Assembly members Dave McDonough (R, C, I – Nassau County), Joseph Saladino (R – Nassau County) and Rory Lancman (D – Queens), who attended the vigil because they share with the nurses a desire to draw attention to the problem of violence against nurses.
Joseph Manopella, executive director of Franklin Hospital, also joined the vigil. Franklin Hospital management is investigating the attack and has promised to work with the Nurses Association to ensure a safe working environment.
The Nurses Association has successfully lobbied for a New York State law that makes it a felony to assault a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN) while on duty. The law, signed by Gov. David Paterson Aug. 14, goes into effect in November. The new law is an important step in making sure there are significant consequences to the criminal act of assaulting a nurse, but it is equally important that hospitals have up-to-date, effective safety protocols to prevent attacks.
This attack at Franklin Hospital comes just weeks after another nurse was attacked and seriously injured at Erie County Medical Center on August 18. And these two examples are part of a larger, national problem of workplace violence against nurses and healthcare workers. Nationally, nurses are three times more likely to encounter violence on the job than any other professional, according to an International Council of Nurses statistic.
According to studies, 430,000 nurses are victims of violence each year. A report from OSHA indicates that 48% of all nonfatal injuries from occupational assaults and violent acts occurred in healthcare and social service settings. Nurses are the most likely of all healthcare workers to be assaulted.
In addition to the new Violence Against Nurses law, there needs to be a workplace violence statute for the private sector that extends the same protections public sector workers receive. Along with enforceable laws, hospital management – at Franklin Hospital and at healthcare facilities around the state – must commit to improved safety policies, procedures and training.
“Today, we can and we must work together to create a new beginning, a safer workplace and a model for other facilities to insure that workplace violence never happens again – here or anywhere,” Seidel said.
The New York State Nurses Association is the voice for nursing in the Empire State. With more than 36,000 members, it is the state's largest professional association and largest union for registered nurses. It supports nurses and nursing practice through education, research, legislative advocacy, and collective bargaining.
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