Bergen hospital nurses union blasts consultant’s workplace violence report

Anjalee Khemlani//October 6, 2016//

Bergen hospital nurses union blasts consultant’s workplace violence report

Anjalee Khemlani//October 6, 2016//

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The nurses union representing employees of the Bergen Regional Medical Center criticized an independent consultant’s report on workplace violence and violations, and asked the county to have their own action items included in the independent report.

After reports of assaults on workers at the hospital and violations of OSHA regulations, BRMC hired the health care consultancy firm Joint Commission Resources.

But the Health Professionals and Allied Employees made a presentation Thursday to the Bergen County Improvement Authority, which oversees the medical center, and said there were gaps in the workplace violence programs at BRMC.

In a statement, HPAE said close to 50 deficiencies identified were not evaluated or summarized severely enough.

The JCR report “did not include all relevant national standards and best practices in its benchmarks; neglected to interview victims of workplace violence; nor did the report include the steps necessary to create an effective workplace violence prevention program at BRMC,” according to the statement.

The report by JCR also failed to address staffing concerns that the 350 union workers attributed to safety problems at the hospital, according to HPAE.

BRMC has been previously criticized as having cut significant staff.

Recent former board member Rob Salazar, who has put in a bid to continue running the medical facility as a for-profit, believes the HPAE report is being used to set a tone for the future.

“The rumors are that HPAE is lobbing very hard for a nonprofit entity to take over the operations at BRMC, and it appears part of their strategy is to attempt to discredit the current manager, a for-profit company,” he said. “BRMC has always been committed to a safe workplace environment.”

HPAE said it simply wants better worker protections.

“With the right commitment from management, proper oversight from the BCIA and consistent and full participation from front-line workers, it is possible to anticipate and reduce the incidents of assaults and injuries,” said Ann Twomey, president of HPAE. “Patients and staff have a right to expect a violence free environment at BRMC.”

Excerpt of items HPAE presented to BCIA

Key Gaps in BRMC Violence Prevention Program:

  • Inadequate risk assessments, recordkeeping, incident reporting and investigation;
  • Discontinuation of recording of near misses;
  • A weak process for conducting ‘root cause’ analysis; and no evidence that specific analyses had been conducted;
  • Physical hazards, including lack of security cameras, panic buttons and security staffing;
  • Lack of post incident response; and
  • Ineffective committee process.

Priorities for Action

  1. Further evaluation should be done to identify the scope of the problem by identifying violence-related injury incident rates, lost work time rates and severity rates as well as evaluating related workers’ compensation costs, overtime use, agency and per diem staffing, and the use of restraint and seclusion.
  2. An implementation plan should start with the reestablishment of the Workplace Violence Committee so that it meets the requirements of New Jersey law, OSHA guidelines and Joint Commission standards. The committee should meet frequently, initially at least biweekly, to develop an action plan to address the JCR recommendations.
  3. The re-established committee should group and prioritize the JCR recommendations.
  4. Accountability should be established in the action plan by naming responsible people and timelines for completion.
  5. Committee members assigned to tasks shall be released to participate in the development of the missing workplace violence program elements.
  6. Development of a robust risk assessment and risk management process should be given priority to ensure that ongoing risks are identified and controlled.
  7. An evaluation of the progress of BRMC and its affiliated unions should be provided within 6 months and 12 months to the committee.
  8. Resources necessary to expedite this work should be assigned to ensure that staff and patient safety gaps are addressed on a timely basis.

SOURCE: Union statement