Press Release

Atlanta VA nurses to hold protest for patient safety and workplace violence prevention

Group of Atlanta VA nurses holding signs "Staff up for safe care! End crisis care now!"

Nurses at Atlanta VA Medical Center to protest leadership’s lack of accountability in protecting veterans, their loved ones, and VA staff

Nurses at the Joseph Maxwell Cleland Atlanta VA Medical Center, in Decatur, Ga., will hold a protest on Friday, March 8, to call attention to their serious patient safety concerns, including ongoing short-staffing, poor security measures to prevent workplace violence, and a lack of leadership accountability, announced National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU) today.

A recent survey by NNU found that the majority of nurses have experienced workplace violence and nearly half have seen a rise in rates in the past year. The report also revealed that health care employers’ failure to implement effective prevention strategies is exacerbating the staffing crisis: 6 in 10 RNs report having changed or left their job or profession, or considered leaving their job due to workplace violence.

“In January, we witnessed a veteran's tragic death in our ER. He came to us for help while he was having a hard time, and we nurses believe his death could've been avoided had management implemented the security measures we asked for,” said Dana Horton, RN and Atlanta-area NNU director. “This traumatic event is a glaring testament to management’s gross negligence toward the safety of our hospital staff, veterans, and their loved ones. This was not just an isolated incident. We believe it was a preventable tragedy that stemmed from a clear disregard for repeated nurse requests for metal detectors and comprehensive security measures.”

  • Who:     Nurses at Atlanta VA Medical Center
  • What:    Protest for patient safety and workplace violence prevention
  • When:   Friday, March 8, 12 p.m.
  • Where: Atlanta VA Medical Center, 1670 Clairmont Rd, Decatur, GA (on sidewalk outside)

“Nurses have made repeated requests for over a year for the installation of metal detectors at entrances to keep dangerous weapons out of our workplace,” said Florence Uzuegbunam, NP and Atlanta- area NNU associate director. . It is unacceptable and incomprehensible that our requests and recommendations have not been addressed with the urgency and seriousness they deserve.”

“The stark disparity in safety measures between the VA business office and our hospital is disturbing,” Horton added. “The VA business office has implemented metal detectors to safeguard its staff, but that same level of protection has not been extended to the hospital, which deals with a significantly more vulnerable population. Many of the veterans we care for are dealing with complex mental health issues, and it is imperative that the VA Health Care System create a secure environment to prevent potential harm and workplace violence.”

VA nurses strongly support a comprehensive workplace violence prevention standard.

The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (S. 1176/H.R. 2663) is aimed at protecting nurses, other health care workers, and their patients from workplace violence. These federal bills would mandate that federal OSHA create a standard that would require health care and social service employers to create, implement, and maintain effective workplace violence prevention plans. Under S. 1176/H.R. 2663, such a standard would include all the elements that effectively protect nurses and other health care workers.

More data and information about the prevention measures required to stem the rise in workplace violence can be found here.

NNOC/NNU represents 900 registered nurses at the Atlanta VA Medical Center.