From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
January/February 2010 Edition
By Maryanne McHugh
Associate Director, Legislative Division
|MNA members Linda Condon and Kathy Metzger, and Legislative Division staff member Maryanne McHugh, share a lighthearted moment with the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security before testifying about the very serious issue of workplace violence against nurses.
MNA nurses and supporters made a strong case to a legislative committee to require all health care facilities to take significant steps to prevent workplace violence. Testifying at a State House hearing before the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, they spoke in support of an Act Requiring Health Care Employers to Develop and Implement Programs to Prevent Workplace Violence (S.988).
The legislation would make it mandatory for hospitals to develop a comprehensive workplace violence prevention program. In addition, it would also require hospitals to make counseling programs available to victims of workplace violence.
MNA members Linda Condon, RN, and Kathy Metzger, RN, shared with the committee their stories of being assaulted at work by violent patients, highlighting the fact that hospitals have become an increasingly violent workplace. “I have been assaulted at work by violent patients” said Condon. “I can tell you that these events were the direct result of a lack of security, poor communication and an unsecured physical environment. I was discouraged by administration and police from filing criminal charges and was never involved in a debriefing or offered counseling after the assaults. I was made to feel that it was just part of my job,” she added.
Metzger described the positive changes that occurred at Brockton hospital once the adminstration adopted and implemented some of the key provisions of SB 988. Her message to the committee was that the steps contained in the bill really do work. However, it took the nurses two years of relentless pressure at Brockton to get the hospital to pay any attention to the issue. As Metzger explained, “Nurses and other health care professionals shouldn’t have to call federal regulators and conduct pickets to get hospitals to take these steps.”
At the end of the MNA testimony, the committee chairs, Sen. Jim Timilty (D-Walpole) and Rep. Mike Costello (D-Newburyport), thanked the MNA members and reiterated their support as co-sponsors of S.988. On Nov. 19, the bill was reported favorbly from the committee and is now in the Join Committee on Health Care Financing.
The MNA and, specifically, the MNA’s Congress on Health and Safety’s taskforce on workplace violence spearheaded the development and submission of this bill.
Nurses interested in helping S.988 move through the Legislature are encouraged to contact their local legislators and ask them for a favorable release from the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. To find your legislators’ information, visit capwiz.com/ massnurses and enter your zip code.
For more information, please contact Maryanne McHugh at 781.830.5713 or firstname.lastname@example.org.