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Democratic Ohio lawmaker planning for bill to protect nurses from being attacked at work

 Hundreds of nurses concerned over staffing levels and workplace violence during the COVID pandemic rallied at the Statehouse for more legal protections.
Karen Kasler
Statehouse News Bureau
Hundreds of nurses concerned over staffing levels and workplace violence during the COVID pandemic rally at the Statehouse for more legal protections.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought an escalation of violence against medical professionals, including nurses.

The American Nurses Association reports a quarter of nurses say they’ve been attacked while at work, but it’s estimated half of those workplace violence issues go unreported or unnoticed because of inadequate tracking.

At an Ohio Statehouse rally with hundreds of nurses, Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) said he’ll propose the Ohio Department of Health be required to track attacks and assaults on nurses and that those who employ nurses be required to use workplace violence prevention programs.

“You have people at their most vulnerable stage in most cases when you're interacting with a nurse. And there's a combination of a huge influx and a surge of demand and a shortage," Weinstein said. "We've got to put the right protections in place to help protect nurses.”

Weinstein said he’s hoping to get some Republicans on board with his bill, too.

Weinstein discussed the issue of workplace safety for health care employees in December 2021. He joined other Democratic and Republican lawmakers in Northeast Ohio to ask for public dollars to be appropriated to a regional hospital system to increase security.

In the letter addressed to Medicaid Director Maureen Corcoran, the bipartisan group of legislators requested a portion of American Rescue Plan Act funds to be sent to Summa Health, the largest safety net health system for the Greater Akron region.

The lawmakers, in December, noted safety issues for hospital staff with the uptick in COVID-19 cases. At the time doctors noted an increase in hostility from patients' loved ones, such as questioning their treatment.

Those funds would "provide necessary state workforce incentives so that our region can manage through this crisis," according to the letter signed by 11 representatives and senators from the region.

Last year, the House passed HB169 which appropriated $4.18 billion using dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act to support a variety of sectors including public health and education.

Meanwhile, two Democrats have just introduced a bill to lower the nurse to patient ratio, dropping it to one-to-one in some cases. Reps. Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) and Catherine Ingram (D-Cincinnati) said that will improve safety for nurses as well as for patients.
Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.