COLUMBIA, S.C. — Healthcare workers say they need tougher laws to keep them safe while at work. The state's nursing association says things have gotten to the point where healthcare providers are afraid to go to work.
The statement comes after Prisma Health Tuomey mental health technician, 40-year-old Kevin Robinson, died on the job last month.
Dr. Kelly Bouthillet, President of the South Carolina Nursing Association (SCNA) says healthcare workers are not being protected.
“We have a job that is inherently unsafe,” Bouthillet said. "This is something almost every professional person or worker in healthcare have more and more physical violence against them.”
Bouthillet says there needs to be tougher penalties for those charged with assaulting a healthcare worker, saying the association is now pushing for something to happen at the state level.
“We have a renewed call for making any workforce violence in the hospitals in a felony," Bouthillet said. She says she’s been working for several years to get something passed, saying workers are now scared to go to work.
In a statement, Prisma Health said they have, “Security on hospital campuses and an active workplace violence task force that is examining how to balance compassionate care with protecting our team members, patients and visitors."
According to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, in 2019 there were 140 reports of patient/employee incidents in the workplace, and 77 in both 2020 and 2021.
There’s also a federal push to increase safety in the workplace for healthcare professions. It’s passed the House, but so far, hasn’t gotten approval in the Senate.