MINNEAPOLIS - Members of the Minnesota Nurses Association highlighted workplace safety concerns Thursday, as their strike at five Allina hospitals entered its 11th day.
Nurses picketed with signs saying “assaulted,” to draw attention to issues of workplace violence. At a news conference, several nurses shared stories of being hit or punched on the job.
"(A patient) grabbed me by the hair, stood up, he had a metal knife in one hand, he had my hair in the other, and he took my head and tried to put it through the wall first, and then he tried to put my head through the floor," said Lori Quinlan, a nurse at Abbott Northwestern. She says she sustained neck and jaw injuries. "I think we really need to do something about the violence at work."
Nurses say there were agreements about adding security during contract talks, but they claim Allina still isn't providing enough follow-up or prevention training.
"I was pregnant, I got kicked and punched by a patient, there was no follow-up by Allina/Abbott leadershuip, there was no prevention to ask how this could not happen again," said Angela Becchetti, a registered nurse at Abbott Northwestern and member of the negotiating team. "Security guards in the ER is a good step, but there's much more they were not willing to give us an agreement on, like more training that needs to be done."
Allina responded to the union's claims in a statement, saying: "The safety of our employees is always one of our top priorities. Allina Health and the union traded proposals on September 3 agreeing to all aspects of this issue that were then on the table, including the number of hours of required training and 24/7 security staffing in the emergency department. Revisiting issues we've already agreed on in principle does not get our nurses back to caring for patients. We hope the union will soon be ready to work with us on solving the few issues that do remain."