Advocate for Workplace Violence Prevention Brings Her Message to the Shop

GNA Bernice Troy

Since testifying about the need for a voice for front-line caregivers in workplace violence prevention and planning, Bernice Troy, GNA discovered that her union contract at Genesis – Caton Manor contained language for a Health & Safety Committee in her workplace to help address her concerns.

She then went to a Labor-Management meeting in her shop and raised the issue of the Health & Safety Committee, which was at the time only addressing “Fire and Emergency” situations, rather than the ongoing problem of workplace violence that all caregivers have faced – especially those in long-term care settings.

Now Ms. Troy is a member of the Health & Safety Committee in her shop and will be bringing issues that affect front-line workers to the committee, including workplace violence prevention.

“I’m hoping to focus the committee’s work on the real issues in the shop and to help improve care and safety,” explained Ms. Troy. “I think this is going to improve things a lot. We’re going to be able to prevent workers from getting hurt, and it’s going to make things better for residents too.”

She urges all of her fellow 1199SEIU members to get involved, talk with their delegates and become be a part of a workplace committee. She’ll also continue her fight, along with others, in Annapolis to pass a bill to protect all of Maryland’s healthcare workers.

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Workplace Violence and Our Bill in the Maryland State Legislature

Kim Perkins, RN (center) testified in Annapolis this year in support of the Safe Care Act along with fellow caregivers Jo Samrow, RN (left) and Bernice Troy, GNA (right).

Kim Perkins, RN (center) testified in Annapolis this year in support of the Safe Care Act along with fellow caregivers Jo Samrow, RN (left) and Bernice Troy, GNA (right).

By Kim Perkins, Emergency Department RN

Recently, I testified along with other front-line healthcare workers in Annapolis in support of the Maryland Safe Care Act. We testified before the House Economic Matters Committee and the Senate Finance Committee about what all us in health care know to be true: we are too vulnerable to violence in our workplaces.

The Maryland Safe Care Initiative is working to pass legislation to give employees and management the tools we need to decrease workplace violence. The bill would have held management accountable for reporting incidences and formulating a joint plan of action to avoid further violence.

Testifying alongside my peers and sharing our experiences made me even more convinced of how important it is to address healthcare workplace violence.

The Maryland Safe Care Act would cost the state almost nothing to implement and has four pillars, all of which are promoted as best practices by OSHA:

  • An annual comprehensive violence risk-assessment and regular recordkeeping
  • Workplace violence prevention committees
  • Annual violence prevention training and education
  • A post-incident response system

We Still Need the Safe Care Act

Unfortunately, our bill didn’t move out of committee this year, after it faced strong opposition from Maryland’s largest long-term care employer associations (LifeSpan Network and HFAM).

We are undeterred; we will continue our work to build awareness of the problem and gather support for the Safe Care Act.

In 2010, healthcare and social assistance workers made up just 16% of Maryland’s workforce but accounted for 62% of workplace violence incidents that resulted in at least one day away from work. The statistics show what we know to be true as healthcare workers – that we are too often placed in harm’s way, and something must be done about it.

Thank our bill sponsors, Delegate Tom Hucker and Senator Katherine Klausmeier, and let them know you stand behind the Maryland Safe Care Act.

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Workplace violence legislation addressed in Baltimore Sun article

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Bernice Troy, a geriatric nursing assistant in Baltimore for the past 20 years, has been spat on and cursed, scratched and punched on the job. A patient once slammed Jo Samrow, a nurse in Southern Maryland, into a wall so violently that she developed a large hematoma on the back of her head.

In recent weeks, these nurses and other health care workers have shared their stories before lawmakers in Annapolis with one goal in mind — reducing assaults in Maryland health care facilities.

“All I want is for my facility to care about my safety,” Troy told the House Economic Matters Committee during a recent hearing on a proposed bill that would bolster violence prevention standards at health facilities across the state.

Read the full article here.

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Workplace Violence in Health Care: Recognized but not Regulated

From The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing:

Workplace violence is one of the most complex and dangerous occupational hazards facing nurses working in today’s health care environment. This article includes critiques of the conceptual, empirical, and policy progress of the past decade, a discussion of the need for methodologically rigorous intervention effectiveness research, and a description of a joint-labor management research effort aimed at documenting a process to reduce violence in a state mental health system.

Read the full article here.

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Whitepaper: Workplace Violence in Healthcare

Download our whitepaper, Workplace Violence in Healthcare: Maryland’s Silent Crisis.

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