Hospital Officials:  Violence “Becoming A True Public Health Crisis”

Lincoln, NE (June 3, 2022)  Medical professionals from across Nebraska are calling the increase in gun violence a public health emergency. Members of the Nebraska Hospital Association and Medical Association issued a joint statement today, pledging to work with community partners to address the root causes of violence, and to integrate behavioral and physical health care. The two groups say violence against health care workers has been increasing throughout the pandemic….and is becoming a true public health emergency.

“Patients and visitors reflect the same polarity existing in society, with some refusing to be compliant with hospital policies for safety or infection prevention protocol, such as masking or vaccination requirement” said Lisa Vail, Chief Nursing Officer at Bryan health.

The two groups say violence against health care workers, by patients and their families, has been increasing throughout the pandemic.

“When they come in they’re fighting against the masking, fighting against vaccinations, they’re fighting against visitation rules and things we’ve set in place for their safety, but our community just doesn’t see it that way sometimes” said Lisa Wilkerson,  Emergency Room Clinical Director of Great Plains Health in North Platte.

Vail said that verbal abuse and actual physical violence against doctors and nurses has been increasing lately, and is causing some to change professions.  She predicted it will have an impact on the health care workforce.

“These events are increasing the physical and emotional toll on our staff, and that is causing some to leave the health care professional all together.  We can’t afford the loss of these skilled and compassionate care givers if we want to continue to meet the health care needs of our community.”

The joint statement by the Hospital and Medical Associations did not suggest any particular action or endorse any specific legislation.  It said, however, that they are “committed to doing more to prevent violent incidents both inside health care facilities and in our communities.  We will continue to work with community partners to address root causes of violence, such as childhood trauma, and will continue shaping a medical culture that integrates behavioral and physical health care. ”