HARTFORD, Conn. — State lawmakers are focusing on legislation that supports health care workers' safety as attacks while on the job are increasing.
Several nurses at Bristol Hospital said they've been assaulted numerous times at work and it makes them feel unsafe as they're trying to care for patients.
"From personal experience, I’ve been assaulted more in the past few years than I have in my 14-year career," said Tiara Cheatham, assistant nurse manager for Bristol Hospital.
Dozens of nurses nationwide are attacked by patients each day, according to the national nurse database Press Ganey, which shows it's not a local problem.
"They come in the door and they think it’s OK to treat us with disrespect and de-value us," said Nancy LaMonica, Vice President and chief nursing officer of Bristol Health.
The legislation would establish a hospital security grant program to fund new security measures and would also allow hospitals to make their own policies when it comes to violent patients, allowing a hospital to remove a non-emergency patient if they threaten anyone's safety and would hold them accountable for their actions.
"The word needs to get out and it needs to be understood there’s zero tolerance for violence in health care," said Marla Campbell, an RN with Bristol Hospital.
Bristol health care workers said it's not just physical attacks on their staff but also personal threats that are continuing to make staff feel unsafe.
"They've been threatened with rape, they’ve been threatened with violence, they look up their names and numbers outside in the community," said LaMonica.
"Health care workers need to feel safe at work, we go to work, provide care to people and they need to be able to do that without fear," said Cheatham.
Supporters of the bill said if it passes, they hope more nurses will enter the field and low staffing won't be an issue anymore, so they can give the best possible care to the community.
Lindsey Kane is a reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at Lkane@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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