Wednesday, October 5, 2016

While Fighting the Battle, We Still Must Have Fun

speaking to OHC founder and staff at luncheonI had the distinct pleasure of attending a luncheon hosted by Nancy Clover, RN, COHN-S, founder of Occupational Health Connections, for OHC staff at the East Street Grill in Methuen, Massachusetts.
I spoke with Nancy and her staff about healthcare violence, and the need to change Massachusetts law for assault on healthcare workers from a misdemeanor to a felony. In spite of the seriousness of the topic, we were able to let loose and have a fantastic time.

A great afternoon, at a great restaurant, with great food, and a lot of fun!

at the OHC luncheonA special thank you goes out to Nancy Clover; and to her colleagues and staff. 

And wow! East Street Grill - great place and great food; thank you.

And now, back to work.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


Waiting isn’t something that most people enjoy. Many of us want everything fast, immediate, now!

Sometimes, when we don’t get what we want in short order, we can become irritated. Throw situational stressors into the mix and some people can lose what’s left of their patience, causing a verbal or even physical confrontation.

That is what happened with a man who was awaiting his mother’s test results.

In an August 8, 2016, article in the UK Mirror, reporter Kelly–Ann Mills describes a horrific moment at Zhongnan Hospital in Wuhan, China, when a patient’s son punched a pregnant nurse in the face.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Violence and PTSD

A July 25, 2016, article in the Hamilton Spectator describes a violent attack on a registered practical nurse at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton's West 5th Campus, the hospital to the regional specialized mental health services for South Central Ontario, providing inpatient and outpatient care to those suffering with a severe mental illness or addiction.

Joel OpHardt, reporter for the Hamilton Spectator, wrote Domenic Di Pasquale, President of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 786 said that about 5:30 am Friday a patient requested some medication. The nurse retrieved the medication, and when she gave it to the patient “he proceeded to kiss her.” “The nurse backed away from him, but the patient tackled her and groped her private parts. This nurse was able to get free at that point, and alerted nearby staff nearby. In a
The patient and attacker, Di Pasquale, “learned the nurse wasn’t physically hurt but is concerned about the traumatization of the incident.”

While the attack is infinitely disturbing, I cannot help but acknowledge Di Pasquale for conveying these sentiments, and for being aware of the risks of long-term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the victim.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

We Need to Do Better

We, as nurses and healthcare workers, need to do better.

Does that statement surprise you? Shock you? Anger you?

Allow me to explain.

A 62-year-old New Jersey nurse is recovering from a broken nose after being assaulted by a patient.
In the July 5, 2016 issue of My Central Jersey/USA Today, reporter Mike Deak wrote that 28-year-old patient Mauri Pierce was being weighed as part of the admission process to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital when she stood up from her wheelchair and struck the nurse in the nose with two open palms, breaking her nose and causing her to fall backward and strike her head against a wall. Pierce then started to run away but was caught by security, and ultimately charged with aggravated assault.

A broken nose can take an extended time to heal, and can cause many permanent complications, including altered appearance, change in or loss of sense of smell, and breathing difficulty.
This attack is a vicious and unwarranted act of violence.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

A Cup of Scalding Tea

A Brooklyn hospital nurse suffered second-degree burns last month when a patient’s daughter threw scalding tea in her face.

Nineteen-year-old Milldred Alverez attacked the Brooklyn healthcare worker at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, where Alvarez’s mother was being treated.

In a June 17, 2016 New York Post article, reporter Sarah Trefethen wrote that Alvarez was “unhappy with the care her mother received.” The attack left the nurse with pain and blisters on her forehead, and Alverez was subsequently charged with felony assault.

The victim developed blisters as a result of the assault, meaning she received a second degree burn.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Reputation is Everything

“The healthcare industry leads all other sectors in the incidence of non-fatal workplace assaults,” according to the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA).   In 2013 healthcare workers reported 9,200 non-fatal workplace related to violence an amount representing more than 67% of injuries reported in all industries and professions.

The two biggest players in healthcare, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), have been sitting on the issue of violence against healthcare workers for years. Where does that leave us? Do we remain passive and suffer assaults or do we fight for our legal right to have a safe working environment?

If you have been a victim of abuse while taking care of your patient, with no one protecting you or standing up to defend you after the assault, and you are punished for rejecting the notion that assault is simply part of your job, what do you do?

We as healthcare workers dedicate our lives to taking care of, and providing treatment to, patients. We can end up putting our own safety at risk from these patients, risking assault not just from the patient but family members or even friends. This has been happening for decades. So what is the problem?

A few key factors are in play.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Oh Thank Goodness!

… Wait - Are You Kidding Me??

A June 9, 2016, article in the Patriot Ledger written by reporter Chris Burrell states:
Pembroke Hospital which is being monitored by the state department of Mental Health after a series of urgent safety violations, is looking for a new director of clinical services.
Phew, thank goodness!  I am sure now, once a new director of clinical services is found and hired, Pembroke Hospital will be fully able to properly care for its patients.

REALLY?? Are we to believe this one person has caused all these problems?

Friday, June 3, 2016

No Boundaries

There are no geographical confines of healthcare violence; it’s happening everywhere

Patrick Clarke
Patrick Clarke was 68 years old, semi-retired, and working at a South London community mental hospital.

On May 12, 2016, he lost his life. He was attacked by patient and suffered multiple stab wounds, and died at the scene.

I am saddened by this event and pained for Mr. Clarke’s family.

I am struck that his death is yet another tragic reminder that my colleagues in this profession are facing unnecessary acts of physical, verbal and psychological violence every day, everywhere.

And I am again unsettled that the nursing profession has lost yet another nurse to violence.

Please read and share your views on this event:

Sheila Wilson, RN BSN MPH
President stophealthcareviolence

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

How many things can a hospital do wrong before losing funding?

Life safety volations, a patient death, inhumane patient restraints... and taxpayer money still flows

A May 3, 2016, Patriot Ledger article by reporter Chris Burrell describes events surrounding psychiatric facility Pembroke Hospital:

“State health inspectors made six surprise visits to the 120-bed psychiatric facility in Pembroke during a 5-week period in March and April and flagged violations related to understaffing, simultaneously restraining and isolating a patient and unclear criteria for evaluating a patient’s risk for aggressive behavior.”

The surprise visits occurred, perhaps, once a week? State Health inspectors knew about these violations for months on end, yet allowed this facility to remain open, and accept and treat patients?

The state uncovered “urgent patient care and life safety violations,” Chris Burrell writes of the Arbour-owned Pembroke Hospital along with four other Arbour-owned facilities: Quincy (18 beds), Westwood (136 beds) and Jamaica Plain (136 beds).

I wonder what is meant by “life safety violations” - is it about the patients, the staff, or both?

State inspectors also cited the hospital for violating regulations on restraining patients: “The physician ordered mechanical restraint and locked door seclusion to be done simultaneously,” adding that both methods cannot be combined.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Pembroke Hospital CEO: No Use for Panic Buttons

CEO Opines they are Prone to Technical Problems and False Alarms

Another article on Pembroke Hospital has been in the paper written by Patriot Ledger reporter Chris Burrell. 

One of the many complaints by state agencies investigating this facility is that there were no mechanisms carried by staff to summon help; no phones equipped with panic buttons or any other device to alert someone when assistance is needed.

The Ledger describes how OSHA “has armed some of the staff with walkie-talkies to call for help in a violent situation or a medical emergency.”

I might add that, from my personal observations, Pembroke Hospital lacks the security - trained or not – to provide that assistance.

So I ask: The staff is now armed with walkie-talkies, but to what end? Who could they possibly be alerting?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Return to Sender

A leading advocacy group for the mentally ill declined to accept a $10,000 donation from Arbour Health System

Arbour Health System, the parent organization of embattled Pembroke Hospital, recently donated $10,000 to the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Massachusetts (NAMI) for its annual fundraising walk to be held May 14, 2016.

However, as reported by Chris Burrell in the Patriot Ledger, the Alliance returned the donation “after reading media reports about patient care and safety violations found by state regulators there and at other Arbour-owned facilities.”

NAMI Executive Director Laurie Martinelli stated in a 4/15/16 blog entry:
In light of recent events and media reports regarding Arbour Health System facilities, NAMI Mass decided to return Arbour’s 2016 Walk corporate sponsorship donation

Ms. Martinelli returned the check.


Ms. Martinelli clearly wants to make a difference for the mentally illness of Massachusetts. Money isn’t the answer when it is donated by an organization that can’t take care of their own patients.

Thank You Ms. Martinelli, for your integrity and steadfast mission to improving the quality of life for those with mental illness and their families.

Sheila Wilson, RN BSN MPH
President stophealthcareviolence 

Patriot Ledger
The Boston Globe

Monday, May 2, 2016

Can Massachusetts Be the 34th State?

Why Massachusetts Must Pass Legislation Making Assault on Healthcare Workers a Felony

With Lobby Day approaching, as President and co-founder of Stop Healthcare Violence I was invited to describe why I filed what became House Bill #1164; legislation that would increase penalties for assault on healthcare workers from a misdemeanor to a felony.

Initially, I thought – gosh, it’s a no-brainer. 

Assaults on healthcare workers has become a crisis of epidemic proportions – and one that is figuratively and literally screaming for more rigorous anti-assault laws.

And it is not simply a handful of individuals believing this to be true; 33 states have recognized the need for tougher laws, and have passed felony legislation.

However, it then occurred to me that some may not see the issue as so crystal clear. So please allow me to explain the critical need for this felony legislation.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Fourteen Days

Time goes by very quickly for some of us. I realized it has been over a week since the last news of Pembroke Hospital.

In fact, it has been two weeks. Fourteen days have passed since the last news item covering Pembroke Hospital was posted.

But what does that mean? Is it a good sign, or a bad one? I don’t know.

Anyone reading the coverage by reporter Chris Burrell of the Patriot Ledger must realize Pembroke psychiatric hospital was being watched not by only one agency but five agencies, and these agencies were going to suggest what was wrong and the for-profit psychiatric facility administration was to fix it or else.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Utah Joins the Club

Utah becomes the 33rd state to enact felony law for assaulting healthcare workers; in Massachusetts it remains a misdemeanor

Congratulations to Utah Governor Gary Herbert and Utah Senator Brian E Shiozawa, MD on becoming the 33rd state to increase penalties for acts of violence against emergency medical care providers.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

And Then There Were Four

Three Other Arbour Facilities Now Target of Investigations 

On April 9, 2016, Chris Burrell of the Patriot Ledger reported more on the problems and violations discovered at psych facility Pembroke Hospital, owned by Arbour Health System.

However, I didn’t expect that three additional Arbour psychiatric facilities have also become the target of investigations.

Along with Pembroke Hospital, Arbour facilities Westwood Lodge, Arbour Hospital in Jamaica Plain, and The Quincy Center have all been ordered to “take immediate steps to correct ‘urgent patient care and life safety violations.’”

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Easter Night Surprise at Pembroke Hospital

Another surprise inspection yet still no changes

The Department of Mental Health made a surprise visit on Sunday night (Easter night, 3/27/16) to Pembroke Hospital. No report has been made on the results of this visit.

The Department of Mental health will “make unannounced visits across all shifts and days until improvements have been made to protect worker and patient safety,” according to Quincy’s Patriot Ledger.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Brigham Nurses Ponder Walk Out

Healthcare violence: do nothing, and nothing changes

In the 3/26/16 Boston Herald, Lindsay Kalter reported that Brigham and Woman’s nurses may strike over the lack of security in their hospital. 

I say HOORAY for them. 

This is what needs to happen. 

The Herald describes how, according to Trish Powers, a Brigham and Women’s Hospital trauma unit RN and chairwoman of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, “the lack of security leaves staff members vulnerable to random attacks, and that nurses have been beaten and threatened with weapons. One nurse had a 10inch hunting knife held to her throat.”

Brigham and Women’s Hospital is not the only hospital to have their nursing staff/healthcare staff beaten or threatened. It is everywhere.

I applaud the nurses and their union MNA for speaking out, for yelling out. The message is clear.

If you won't protect us we will strike until you do!

Sheila Wilson R.N. BSN MPH
Stop Healthcare Violence

source: Boston Herald

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

You Just Can’t Make This Up

No Loss of Taxpayer Funds for Hospital?

I was reading the March 22, 2016, issue of the Patriot Ledger.

“State errs in letter to Pembroke hospital…”

Whoa!  WHAT?

According to the article, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued a letter on 3/8/16 to Dr. Thomas Hickey, CEO of the 120-bed psych facility. The state health agency letter cited failures to meet “standards for patient safety and the administration of drugs,” and that failure to respond within 10 days would jeopardize the hospital’s provider agreement for accepting Medicare and Medicaid – taxpayer-funded health insurance

It’s important to understand: The State agency indicated that Pembroke Hospital’s failure to respond would jeopardize its agreement to accept taxpayer-funded health insurance.

However, according to the Ledger, the State now says its demand was made in error and that the for-profit hospital is NOT at risk of losing Medicare and Medicaid payments, which account for more than 75 percent of its revenue.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

WBZ Business Breakfast and Safety at Work

With Boston Police Commissioner William Evans
On March 24, 2016 I attended WBZ’s Business Breakfast, where the topic was Safety at Work – Maintaining a Safe and Secure Workplace.

At the venue I met Boston Police Commissioner William Evans. We spoke briefly about the healthcare violence and House Bill #1164 that has been sent to study. The other speakers were former Police Commissioner Ed Davis, Lexington School Superintendent Dr. Mary Czajkowski, FBI Special Agent Harold Shaw, all of whom were interviewed by WBZ News anchor Joe Mathieu.   
The presenters covered topics such as what to do if in the event of an “active shooter situation;” the use of cameras and video in such situations; and how technology, social media, email and texting has positively assisted their efforts. They described the importance of working with the community by outreach; the training and practice of quick thinking; and reflecting on decisions made and actions taken.

Discussions included what the presenters and their peers need to expect from us and what do we expect from them; building partnerships; and learning about communities while letting the communities learn about them.

While it would be impossible to capture the entire session in one blog post, I came away highly impressed with the whole program.

It was such a privilege to speak to the Police Commissioner, and listen to the other speakers. The work they and others have done and continue to do is outstanding.

To Commissioner Evans, former Commissioner Davis, Superintendent Czajkowski, and Agent Shaw, I extend my sincerest appreciation and gratitude for your work and dedication.

Sheila Wilson R.N. BSN MPH
Stop Healthcare Violence