COVID-related attacks prompt hospital to issue panic buttons

Nurses and tons of of different employees members will quickly start sporting panic buttons at a Missouri hospital the place assaults on staff tripled after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic

Nurses and tons of of different employees members will quickly start sporting panic buttons at a Missouri hospital the place assaults on staff tripled after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cox Medical Middle Branson is utilizing grant cash so as to add buttons to identification badges worn by as much as 400 staff who work within the emergency room and inpatient hospital rooms. Pushing the button will instantly alert hospital safety, launching a monitoring system that may ship assist to the endangered employee. The hospital hopes to have the system operational by the top of the 12 months.

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The same program was efficiently examined final 12 months at CoxHealth’s Springfield hospital, spokeswoman Kaitlyn McConnell mentioned Tuesday.

The delta variant of the virus hit laborious in southwestern Missouri beginning in June, leaving hospitals so full that many sufferers have been despatched to different amenities tons of of miles away. The hospital in Branson, the favored vacationer city identified for its many reveals and sights, has been at or close to capability for 4 months.

CoxHealth’s director of security and safety, Alan Butler, mentioned the panic buttons “fill a critical void.”

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The Missouri hospital isn’t alone. The Texas Tribune reported earlier this month about the rising number of assaults at Texas hospitals, incidents that officials believe are fueled by a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Jane McCurley, chief nursing executive for Methodist Healthcare System in Texas, said at a news conference in August that staff members at the San Antonio hospital “have been cursed at, screamed at, threatened with bodily harm and even had knives pulled on them.”

Worldwide, a February report by the Geneva-based Insecurity Insight and the University of California, Berkeley’s Human Rights Center identified more than 1,100 threats or acts of violence against health care workers and facilities last year. Researchers found that about 400 of those attacks were related to COVID-19, many motivated by fear or frustration.

Assaults on health care workers have been a concern for years, Missouri Hospital Association spokesman Dave Dillon said, but COVID-19 “has changed the dynamic in a number of ways.” Among them: The effort to slow the spread of the virus means relatives often can’t accompany a sick person, raising already-high stress levels.

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Jackie Gatz, vice president of safety and preparedness for the Missouri Hospital Association, said the use of a button alert is among many steps hospitals are taking to protect workers. Security cameras are being added, and some security personnel are wearing body cameras. CoxHealth added security dogs late last year in Springfield.

The Missouri Hospital Association also provides training to help workers protect themselves, including training on how to recognize and de-escalate when someone becomes agitated. Gatz said nurses and staff also are encouraged to stand between the hospital bed and the door.

“You can control your environment without necessarily placing physical barriers,” Gatz mentioned.