LOVE Means Zero Tolerance for Workplace Violence

By: Office of the CEO

February 14, 2022

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Over the past year, the safety of healthcare providers has received more public attention than ever before. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic – and particularly in the early days – the public learned about the vital role of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other important processes that keep healthcare workers safe and healthy. However, people may be surprised to learn that germs and viruses are just one of the many risks that healthcare professionals face every day.

Many people are fortunate enough not to have to worry for their physical and mental well-being when they go to work. Unfortunately, this is not the case for countless healthcare workers across the nation, for whom workplace violence is a daily concern. According to the American Hospital Association, healthcare workers are four times more likely to experience serious workplace violence than people in other industries. This is particularly troubling knowing that healthcare workers have dedicated their careers to serving others, putting their communities first- day in and day out.

What is Considered Workplace Violence?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines workplace violence as, “Incidents where staff are abused, threatened, or assaulted in circumstances related to their work, including commuting to and from work, involving an explicit or implicit challenge to their safety, well-being, or health.” WHO considers both physical and psychological harm, including attacks, verbal abuse, bullying, and both sexual and racial harassment, to be workplace violence.

Responding to the Challenge of Workplace Violence

At Renown Health, we have no tolerance for abuse against our employees. As an organization, we have several systems in place to support and protect our staff. During staff orientation, we provide classes to prepare employees to prevent and de-escalate verbal or physical abuse. We also offer ongoing education to train our staff to respond to violent situations. If an incident does occur, our Violence Prevention Task Force reviews incidents and ensures the impacted employees receive resources and counseling to help them process what has occurred. We are among the first in the nation to have instituted a Zero Tolerance policy on workplace violence. This policy is in place to let our employees know that we have their backs in preventing workforce violence and we will address it assertively if the environment becomes unsafe.

As a leader, I am continually impressed by our team’s desire and ability to support one another. However, I know that it is my responsibility to protect our team. No one should have to face harassment or abuse – in any form – in his or her workplace. I believe so much in this cause that I volunteer as Chair of the American Hospital Association’s Hospitals Against Violence steering committee, which works to understand the causes behind violence against healthcare workers and develops tools and processes to prevent these incidents from occurring.

Violence was already a concern facing health care organization leaders prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the ongoing health crisis has elevated tensions. Health care is an industry like no other, with our most precious resource being our employees. As a community, as patients and family members, we have an obligation to ensure that all healthcare workers are safe while they go about their work. This starts with understanding, communication and unequivocal support for the profession. This month we launched the Be Kind campaign across Renown, a reminder to all of the importance of values like patience, kindness and gratitude. If you would like to join us in recognizing a healthcare hero, please submit your thoughts here.

Thank you for working with us, and all healthcare providers, to create and maintain places of health and healing for all – and for kindly caring for those who care for you.

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