Legislative Update 1.16.23


Devon Green, VP of Government Relations
Part of my job is looking at each issue from every angle—what will the state say, what will this stakeholder say, where is this legislator coming from? For years, I’ve looked at workplace violence from every angle. It’s an extremely difficult conversation. How do you protect health care providers from getting injured while they are caring for hurt people? How do you ensure that the conversation does not break down into an us-against-them mentality and alienate patients? How can you get more resources to address this issue when you’re in a workforce shortage?
We worked on this issue from all the angles. We had a multidisciplinary task force and developed a toolkit. We tried a public service campaign. However, after the health care provider stories piled up and health care providers themselves despaired that nothing would happen until someone was killed, I can only look at the issue from one angle—we need to do something now. We will not be able care for Vermonters if health care providers are going to work worried about getting assaulted or subjected to hateful threats. We have asked too much of our health care workers. They need immediate relief.
VAHHS is proposing that workplace violence, and the threat of workplace violence, against health care workers result in immediate removal of the perpetrator from the facility by law enforcement. What we need now is help in removing individuals who are violent from hospitals so that trauma to health care providers and patients is mitigated as much as possible. This provision will not solve workplace violence. It will not apply to individuals who need emergency care for stabilization. Law enforcement doesn’t have the resources to carry out this directive every time. And, the question of where those individuals go remains up in the air. But, the issue is clear—we need help caring for those who provide care. And, we need it now.