Hospital nurses call for better protection against violence

June 17, 2022 GMT

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Nurses at Vermont’s largest hospital are calling on the University of Vermont Medical Center to do more to address increasing violence in the emergency department.

According to the Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, 98% of UVM Medical Center nurses reported being verbally assaulted, and 78% said they’ve been physically assaulted in the last year, WCAX-TV reported.

“Our staff have endured strangulation, broken ribs, concussions, contusions, lacerations, permanent hearing loss, jaw fractures, broken noses, broken arms, broken cheekbones, bites, sexual assaults,” said Amanda Young, a registered nurse in the emergency department, at a news conference on Thursday. “Threats with weapons including knives, a hatchet and a chainsaw. Verbal threats to our lives, and threats to our loved ones’ lives.”

She said she’s had more than one nurse tell her that they’re not worried about getting COVID-19 on duty but come to work afraid that they’ll be assaulted.

It’s a nationwide problem that Vermont is not immune to, said Mike Del Trecco, the interim president and CEO of the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems.

Nurses want the hospital to boost security measures, including adding a working metal detector in the department, 24-hour security, better lighting outside and more, the television station reported.

Stephen Leffler, UVM Medical Center president and CEO, said the hospital is working on tightening security but has had challenges.

“We are concerned about this; we are doing everything in our power to make it better,” he said. “If we had all the security that we needed, we’d have presence down there. If we could hire an outside police force, we would have done it.”