Workplace Violence Prevention Forum

By the end of last week’s panel discussion on Workplace Violence Prevention, a few takeaways were very clear:

  1. Workplace violence is up, the rates are especially high in hospitals, and our hospital is no exception.
  2. The executive leadership of UMass Memorial is very actively working on solutions.
  3. Our hospital needs to enlist much more help from frontline employees to make significant improvements.

Of course, in the many areas where SHARE members work, workplace violence is a big, broad, serious subject. The panel brought together experts from our hospital and medical school who spoke to the spectrum of issues. Not every question led to a clear answer. UMass Memorial President Patrick Muldoon concluded the event by noting that the efforts so far are only a beginning.

University Campus Police Chief John Luippold praised caregivers, and encouraged us to recognize all that UMass Memorial employees do already to get patients home safely, consistently, day after day. Luippold also emphasized that all employees should trust their gut if they sense that something is out of the ordinary.

Dr. Sheldon Benjamin, Interim Chair of the UMMS Department of Psychiatry, elaborated on that idea. He explained that extremely important for caregivers to remove themselves from a situation that seems potentially dangerous, and then get help. As he put it: the main job of a caregiver is to stay able to help others.

Over 100 audience members attended, including many hospital and medical school leaders. Afterward, SHARE Co-President Rita Caputo remarked: The panel had so much information!  But not a lot of the kind of information that we can use at work. She’s looking forward to events where employees share their experiences, and help innovate new solutions.

How to Help with Violence Prevention

If you work in areas that experience violent patients, or “lateral” employee-on-employee bullying, then the Workplace Violence Working Group would particularly like to include you in their efforts. (To inquire or become involved, contact Sharon Gaynor, Senior Director of Employee Health, or Dr. Maria Michas, Employee Health Medical Director.)

You can also ready yourself for difficult situations by enrolling in the hospital’s Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Program, provided by the Crisis Prevention Institute. SHARE members who have already taken the course have said that they found it really helpful.

What’s Being Done Now?

The panel described a number of initiatives and procedures that are already in place to provide help, including:

  • The hospital’s Workplace Violence Working Group, which currently consists of 59 members.
  • Installation of over 300 “panic buttons” at strategic places throughout the institution.
  • Legislation such as Elise’s Law--named in honor of the nurse from Harrington Hospital who was recently assaulted by a patient--which pressures hospitals to increase security.  

To Report Incidents of Violence

To report incidents of violence, or potential violence, please call:

  • Off Campus: 911
  • University Campus Police: 6-3296
  • Memorial/Hahnemann Campus Police: 4-8568
  • Employee Health: 3-6400

Read more about the Workplace Violence Prevention forum in News & Views. Soon we hope report about how to watch the event yourself online, using on-demand video. More to come . . .