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Healthcare Violence is now a Rural Problem

Feb 20, 2024Library, News

By: Jacqueline Davis, MHA, FACHE
Delta Health Director of Marketing/Communications/PR Public Information Officer

My passion for rural healthcare runs deep because there is nothing quite like it. Not only do our hospitals and healthcare facilities create a dynamic force within the economic fabric of our local communities, but we also have a unique opportunity for caregivers to share their gifts in serving our close-knit communities filled with family and friends. Rural healthcare also allows our caregivers to work at the top of their licenses, providing a diverse range of care their urban counterparts can only dream about; all while having some of the most beautiful places on earth as their backdrop. However, our rural healthcare caregivers are facing some significant and scary challenges I think you should know about.

Caregiving is truly a calling rooted in the desire to help others and heal patients. Doctors, nurses, technicians, accounting, environmental services, business offices, and food service workers all have spent countless hours mastering their trade with “the patient” at the center of everything. Unfortunately, this noble pursuit is increasingly overshadowed by the rise in violence towards healthcare workers. Once thought to be “big city” problems are now taxing the safety of our small community hospitals, which are now being challenged with a rise in violence against their healthcare workforce.

According to data from Press Ganey, the second quarter of 2022 alone saw over 5,200 nursing personnel assaulted, averaging about 57 assaults per day. Shockingly, these attacks occurred mainly at the hands of patients, reflecting a concerning trend of aggression. Colorado hospitals, including Delta Health, are not immune to this trend, witnessing a surge in both reported cases and overall incidents of violence against their workforce.

According to the NIH, healthcare and social service industries have the greatest rates of workplace violence injuries, with workers in these industries being five times more likely to be injured than other workers are. The consequences of this trend cannot be ignored any longer. Due in part to the repeated trauma of violence and harassment, healthcare workers are leaving the field to take themselves out of harm’s way. At a time when Colorado is expected to be short 10,000 nurses and 54,000 healthcare ancillary staff members by 2026, we must act now and do all that we can to protect our healthcare workers.

Despite a zero-tolerance policy towards violence, healthcare workers at Delta Health, situated within our rural community, find themselves increasingly subjected to threats and aggression. To combat this trend and foster a safer work environment for staff, Delta Health is working to keep our patients and staff safe by implementing comprehensive training programs and protocols, partnership with local law enforcement, increasing additional security measures in and around the hospital and clinics with increased signage of our zero-tolerance policy.

You will also see Delta Health promoting the campaign #CultureofCARE, a Colorado Hospital Association (CHA) created initiative around our health-system. This campaign is specially tailored to the unique needs of healthcare settings emphasizing the fundamental principle that every patient deserves compassion, and every healthcare worker deserves respect. Hoping to encourage patients, visitors, and staff alike to treat healthcare workers with the same kindness they expect to receive.

Addressing and preventing employee violence towards healthcare workers is a community issue that needs a collective and concerted responsive effort of all stakeholders, particularly in rural community settings. Through initiatives like the #CultureofCARE campaign, proactive measures to enhance workplace safety, and community awareness, Delta Health is committed to creating a safe and supportive environment for everyone.


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