I have written previously about violence against nurses. A post I published on 6.4.11 titled Violence Against Nurses discusses my very strong feelings about the violence we work with everyday. We do our jobs with devotion, care, and consistency knowing some patients will thank us and some will hit us. Despite this, we go to work: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to care for our patients. We understand, as professionals, that psychosis, being under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and certain medical conditions can make people violent. We also know that some people are just violent. As nurses we maintain the highest level of care despite the violent behavior; we know better than to define people by their circumstances. Senator Ophelia Ford, State Senator from Tennessee, does not share this understanding.
On February 15th, Sen. Ophelia Ford expressed a myriad of feelings (some videos show her rant at 10-15 minutes in length) about nurses and the terrible care she feels she received as a patient in the hospital. She let loose on her tirade while the Tennessee State Senate was debating a bill that would bring harsher punishments and penalties for people who assault health care workers.
The Tennessee division of the Emergency Nurses Association spoke out and addressed this statement by Senator Ford. The nurses and all health care workers in Tennessee deserve our support as this bill continues to move forward. The Tennessee ENA deserves our acknowledgement for their dedication to the safety and advancement of our profession.
My anger while watching these newscasts and videos was very high. Senator Ford continuously reiterates that nurses restrained her while she was hospitalized and they did this even though “she was a senator.” This statement deserves a counterpoint and I’m going to make it. While yes we use restraints for violent patients but we mostly use restraints to keep patients safe. In the ICU, we need to restrain patients to keep them from pulling out their breathing tube and tearing their vocal cords. There are dangers in accidentally removing other tubes and drains that were placed in surgery as well. People, no matter who they are, what job they do, or how important they think they are- are all the same. When people wake up from surgery and anesthesia they try to pull things out. I don’t know the situation or factors that lead to her being restrained in the hospital, I was not there and I was not her nurse. Watching her argue against this bill she looks like she’s doing really well, health-wise, and probably actually owes a great thanks to the many nurses that took care of her, worked to control her pain, helped her heal, and helped her get well enough to go home. I would guess those nurses never got their thank you.
A few points I would like to address about Sen. Ford’s legislative history. While she was arguing vehemently against harsher punishments and stronger penalties for assaulting a health care worker she lists many bills that she has sponsored and co-sponsored on her website. I’ll draw your attention to a few bills she finds worthy of state legislative attention and public safety priorities: #1-Bill SB2044 (2.24.11) makes it a criminal offense punishable by fine and community service to knowingly wear pants below waistline to show underwear or buttocks. #2 Bill SB2035 (2.24.11) requires local law enforcement to make every reasonable effort to have a visible presence during the time a door-to-door campaign is scheduled upon the written request of the public official conducting such campaign. The list is long.
Senator Ford, you should be ashamed of voting against the passing of legislation to protect health care workers and embarrassed to argue against it.
As nurses we let a lot of things go. We don’t fight for ourselves, our colleagues, and our profession as often as we should. This is the time to stand united as a nursing profession and demonstrate our NATIONAL and professional solidarity.
How to contact Senator Ford:
318 War Memorial Building
Nashville, TN 37243-0029
Phone: (615) 741-1767
Fax: (615) 253-0357
54 North Arcadian #102
Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: (901) 575-2321
How to contact the Tennessee ENA and show your support: