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Safe & Sound Campaign launches across Indiana hospitals as assaults continue to rise

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Posted at 8:21 PM, Sep 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-13 13:27:34-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Attacks continue to rise in Indiana hospitals. The newly launched "Safe and Sound" campaign raises awareness of the issue and reminds patients that violence will not be tolerated.

"Caregivers sometimes they see that as they took this job and part of their job is they become the victim of aggression. We don't believe that's how it should be," said Ginger Breeck with Community Health Network. "We hope increased reporting has to deal with the uptick, but our fear is we are really seeing more aggression."

When patients enter the hospital, they rely on healthcare workers to help them but as WRTV has reported, caregivers often become a victim of workplace violence by the people they're trying to help.

"We are the folks we perceive as being your helpers and yet we are the victims more than any other industry combined," said Breeck.

Ginger Breeck is the Executive Director of Patient Safety and monitors assault reports for Community Health Network.

She's also a registered nurse.

She said reports of both verbal and physical attacks vary.

"It covers the gamet. One of the things that is very under reported is verbal aggression. [When a patient] makes a threat or calling names. The other things we see, we see physical aggression. We have folks that punch, kick, spit, involves throwing bodily waste and no one should be a victim of that," Breek said. "We've had some staff afraid to walk to their cars."

The Indiana Hospital Association recently launched it's Safe and Sound campaign with banners in all hospitals stating safe caregivers means better care.

"It's very hard to focus on safety or focus when you fear you are going to be assaulted in some way and every act of aggression kind of chips away at the confidence, but it also distracts our caregivers from duties of caring for patients," said Breeck. "There is a really fine line that we walk. We are obligated to take care of these folks and sometimes they come in and through no fault of our own we are victims of their aggression. It may be displaced aggression."

In 2022, the IHA raised the red flag to WRTV about the rise in hospital attacks and the lack of punishment.

It fought for the general assembly to pass a new law for healthcare employees. HEA 1021 passed in 2023.

As of July of 2023, assaults in an emergency department became a felony.

"That makes us feel a lot safer. We don't want our nurses or support teams to come in here and be fearful of what the day may bring to them," said IU Health Nursing Director, Rachel Culpepper.

The five hospital areas attacked the most include the ER's, intensive care and behavioral health units, medical checks and security.

Breek says while hospitals are taking steps to better protect employees, remember this:

"Be strong. There's a reason you went into healthcare. Folks went in because they have a desire to help people and that desire doesn't go away, so get help."

Indiana Hospital Association Statement:

“House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1021 is a step in the right direction to reduce violence in our hospitals by elevating penalties for attacks on all staff in hospital emergency departments. Safe caregivers mean better care, and everyone who walks through the doors of our hospitals, including staff members, deserve to feel safe.”