Healthcare employees share scary stories, get police support for workplace violence

Published 5:29 pm Thursday, January 26, 2023

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When nurse Keri Reeves was 38 weeks pregnant with her youngest son, she had a patient who became angry and violent. The patient kicked her in the stomach and said he’d like to kill her.

“We all have stories like that,” Reeves told a group of healthcare workers, law enforcement and media Thursday.

Reeves is president of the Golden Triangle Emergency Nurses Association and director of Emergency Services and Education at The Medical Center of Southeast Texas.

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Violence against healthcare is an escalating issue. Last year there were 1,700 nurses assaulted each month, which equates to two per hour, she said.

Local law enforcement personnel listen as healthcare workers talk about workplace violence. (Mary Meaux/The News)

The nurses association is working to bring awareness to the violence with the backing of local law enforcement.

Reeves told of a healthcare worker who was working in front of a hospital when an upset family member of a patient tried to come into the facility to see their mother. At that time they were not allowed back and the worker was trying to calm the family member when they threatened to kill him.

The person said they were going to come back and wait for the healthcare worker to get of work.

And they did.

The worker was so fearful for his life that he tried to run away and jumped into his car. The angry family member wrote down the worker’s license plate and was going to track him down at his home and commit violence.

Reeves said she has heard conversations in the emergency department where patients threaten to kill nurses and healthcare workers.

“One very interesting threat is that they were going to track down that nurse and her family, kill them and sell their organs on the black market,” she said.

Port Arthur Police Chief Tim Duriso signs a proclamation in support of healthcare workers. (Mary Meaux/The News)

Both Port Arthur City Council and Beaumont City Council recently made proclamations to bring awareness to health workplace violence and on Thursday in the auditorium at The Medical Center of Southeast Texas, local law enforcement came together and penned their signature in solidarity.

The document will be placed in healthcare facilities locally as nurses who feel assaulted or have something happen to them can look at the document and be reminded law enforcement is behind them, said Misty Dantin, president elect of the Golden Triangle Emergency Nurses Association.

Emergency room nurse Martie Broussard said sometimes people come to the ER while under the influence.

“I had an experience where someone came in and was

trying to throw himself off the EMS stretcher and as I’m trying to help him, keep him from falling onto the floor,” Broussard said. “He reached out and backhanded me and hit me in the throat. I said sir I’m just trying to keep you from falling and he said I don’t need your help, just let me fall.”

But it’s not in a nurse’s nature to not help someone when they need it, she said.

Connie Wiltz, left, Martie Broussard, Ronnie Hamilton, Misty Dantin, Lydia Worthen, Vickie Tarnow, Toshya Henry, Stacy Durio and Kari Reeves are pictured. (Mary Meaux/The News)

Connie Wiltz, also an ER nurse, said a few weeks ago a nurse had he finger broken while trying to stop a patient from biting another employee.

But she taped up her finger and came to work day after day.

“Those are the things that are happening,” Wiltz said. “We still want to protect you. We still want to nurture you. We still want to take care of you. It’s not changing who we are as nurses and healthcare personnel, but it does limit the things we will allow to happen to us in return.”

Port Arthur Police Chief Tim Duriso said he wants the association to know police are 100 percent behind them and will continue to offer resources.

Duriso also encouraged nurses and healthcare workers to call if they see something.