ENA, ACEP members tell of their first-hand experiences and how new legislation can help
WASHINGTON, May 3, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- On Wednesday, leaders and members from the Emergency Nurses Association and the American College of Emergency Physicians joined forces on Capitol Hill to call for action to mitigate workplace violence against health care workers and increase mental health care resources for patients.
"Emergency departments are the front door to the hospital. It is the health care safety net in many communities," said ENA President Terry Foster, MSN, RN, CEN, CPEN, CCRN, TCRN, FAEN. "Every patient who arrives in the emergency department deserves the absolute best from the nurses, physicians and other health care providers – but that isn't possible the longer workplace violence is considered part of the job or if an urgent emphasis isn't placed on improving access to mental health care resources and in, and beyond, the ED."
Two recently introduced pieces of legislation were the focus of the State of Emergency Nursing event held on Capitol Hill with dozens of ENA members in attendance. The first being the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 2663 and S. 1176) which directs OSHA to require health care and social service employers to develop and implement workplace violence prevention plans that are worker-driven and comprehensive to ensure the safety of patients and workers.
The second piece of legislation, the Improving Mental Health Access from the Emergency Department Act (S. 1346) would develop a competitive grant program that creates more resources for emergency departments to adapt more collaborative and cohesive care models to connect patients in mental health crisis with appropriate resources in their communities. It also aims to increase access to inpatient beds and alternative care settings, which will help alleviate boarding and overcrowding issues.
"Emergency physicians and emergency nurses strongly believe that threats and attacks against health care workers are unacceptable," said ACEP President Christopher S. Kang, MD, FACEP. "Emergency care teams must be dedicated to patient care without fearing for their safety. We must also address the mental health care crisis in this country that emergency physicians see and manage every day. More resources and better coordinated care can improve the patient and physician experience, outcomes and well-being."
The Capitol Hill event coincided with the Emergency Nurses Association's annual Day on the Hill event that included 170 emergency nurses visiting legislators to discuss these key issues.
Speakers at the Capitol Hill event shared their personal experiences to help illustrate the realities of both issues in the emergency department.
Emergency nurse Christian Stone of Washington, D.C.: "I have a background of seven years in EMS, which I thought prepared me pretty well to be an ED nurse, but nothing honestly prepared me to walk into work every night just to be screamed at, spit on, swung at, cursed out, kicked, threatened and more by patients and their family members while I'm just trying to do my job."
Emergency nurse Dan Nadworny of Massachusetts: "Over the last 10 years, we have fought to remove the stigma of mental health and we have encouraged people to come forward to seek help. We have asked patients to be honest and vulnerable with their caregivers. However, what I am seeing now is that when those patients speak up and ask for help they are often lost. What is unfortunate is when these patients come to the ED for help they are often there for days, weeks or even months with no treatment or therapies due to the lack of care opportunities."
About the Emergency Nurses Association
The Emergency Nurses Association is the premier professional nursing association dedicated to defining the future of emergency nursing through advocacy, education, research, innovation, and leadership. Founded in 1970, ENA has proven to be an indispensable resource to the global emergency nursing community. With 50,000 members worldwide, ENA advocates for patient safety, develops industry-leading practice standards and guidelines and guides emergency health care public policy. ENA members have expertise in triage, patient care, disaster preparedness, and all aspects of emergency care. Additional information is available at www.ena.org.
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SOURCE Emergency Nurses Association