Health care workers are experiencing more violence since the start of the pandemic

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URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) – Many hospitals report a change in patients since the pandemic started, and it’s happening across the country.

Health care providers say patients are short-tempered and getting aggressive with them. In Branson, Missouri, hundreds of health care workers will get personal panic buttons because they have seen so much aggression in the last year. If pressed, the buttons will notify security and show the employees location on hospital computers.

In Central Illinois, Carle Hospital said they’ve had about a 30% increase in reported incidents since the start of the pandemic.

A hospital can be a place full of emotion

“Potentially not always, but potentially, it can be an emotionally charged environment. Related to what people are going through, and of course we are very sensitive to that,” Lynne Barnes, President for Carle Foundtion Hospital, said.

She said since the start of the pandemic, they’ve noticed a change.

“Sometimes we’re seeing just an increase in the incidences of aggression towards our team members who are caring for our treating patients,” she said.

Barnes said it’s an issue they never saw coming, but she said it’s important that everyone in their hospital feels safe.

“It causes a lot of different types of feelings, expressions, tension and anxiety that people haven’t felt before. So, I can’t say I predicted it, but I can say we are addressing it,” she said.

One of the things they are doing is posting signs saying violence, and verbal aggression toward staff, patients or visitors will not be tolerated, and it’s a felony to assault a healthcare professional.

Barnes said the staff is well trained in de-escalation and security is available 24/7.

“We do not tolerate violence, aggression, or any kind of harassment to our team members. We just don’t tolerate it, and we will work tirelessly to assure we are doing everything we can to keep them safe,” she said.

She said that goes for not only employees, but anyone in the hospital.

Barnes said it saddens her to see this change.

“Our team, they are heroes, and they have been working hard, relentlessly, tirelessly, and we’re just hopeful that what they get back in return is respect from everyone who comes in our doors,” Barnes said.

Barnes said when an incident happens, it takes away from what these health care workers are doing. Which in some cases is life saving.

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