NEW YORK NURSE: October 2012
A wave of violent assaults is hitting the 11 hospitals in the NYC HHC system. And in each case, nurses say inadequate RN staffing has played a big role.
Reports of attacks at Bellevue, Kings County, Woodhull, Queens, and other HHC hospitals are piling up — patients choking, shoving, and punching RNs, breaking bones.
HHC nurses are taking action — and getting results. Here are two of their stories.
When an ED nurse was attacked by the patient, management tried to hide the problem.
The Chief Nurse told her not to go to the police. By the time the NYPD got there, the assailant was gone, and it was too late to press charges. After months of advocacy, QHC nurses have won a new 9-point action plan from hospital management and police to deal with assaults.
Under the plan, Hospital police are being re-deployed to the most high-risk areas, including a third post to be assigned in the Emergency Department during high volume times.
And Hospital Police will confer with administrators immediately after an assault to review if an arrest is warranted.
“Hospital police have needed a clear policy for a long time,” said Lindella Artman, RN, Chairperson of the NYSNA chapter at QHC.
“We’re taking down the barriers nurses face when they are assaulted. Now we have to make sure this policy is enforced.”
Don’t keep it to yourself
“If you’re the victim of an assault, don’t keep it to yourself. Call your supervisor. If you let time lapse, the police will ask you ‘Why did you wait so long?’ Don’t give them an excuse to do nothing.”
— Elizabeth Giddings, RN, Queens Hospital Center
Eurica Walters-Rodney, RN, a psych nurse at Woohdull in Brooklyn, has had enough.
On August 10, a patient jumped the counter, grabbed Rodney, put her in a chokehold, and sent her to the emergency room.
The attack left Rodney with scars on her face. She is on a leave of absence from work.
As she was being wheeled to the emergency room, she told New York City Hospital Police that she wanted to press charges against her assailant. They did nothing, and so Rodney took her case to the NYPD’s 79th Precinct – who also failed to act.
“I’ve been hit before,” said Rodney. “But this was the first time blood was shed.”
Rodney says the unit she was working on is chronically under-staffed.
On the day of the assault, there were just two nurses, and no LPN, caring for 20 patients.
Since there was no LPN, one RN had to administer medication – leaving Eurica alone to deal with the needs of 20 patients.
Rodney is joining other NYSNA nurses to take their case to the New York City Council – to speak out for enforcement of New York’s law against assaulting a nurse, and to demand adequate staffing in HHC facilities.
“Nurses deserve the protection of the law,” Rodney says. “This sends the wrong message to nurses and to our patients – it teaches people that they can hurt a nurse and get away with it.”
Do you have a story you need to tell to the City Council? Contact NYSNA Community Affairs Rep Carol Pittman with your story today, at 212-785-0157, ext 201, or email@example.com.
“Nurses deserve the protection of the law. This sends the wrong message to nurses and to our patients – it teaches people that they can hurt a nurse and get away with it.”
— Eurica Walters-Rodney, RN, Woodhull Medical Center