A hospital in southern Missouri says it is providing all staff members with personal panic buttons following a disturbing rise in violent assaults by patients.
The Cox Medical Center in Branson, Missouri, says it has received a $132,000 grant to provide staff members with the technology.
Workers will be provided with a "tracer tag" that includes a button they can press in case of emergencies. The button will activate an alert system that will notify security staff and provide them with their exact location in the hospital.
"This project protects our No. 1 resource – our healthcare workers," said Nita Jane Ayres, the chairman for the Skaggs Legacy Endowment Grant Committee, which provided funding for the project. "When this project was presented to us in August, we saw the importance and urgency of it. Our healthcare workers already sacrifice so much, but their safety should never be sacrificed."
In a Facebook update, the hospital said the technology is needed because assaults on staff members by patients have tripled in the past year from 40 to 123. Injuries from workplace assaults increased from 17 to 78.
The hospital says assaults have also gotten more violent — the percentage of assaults that resulted in injury increased from 42.5% to 63%.
Nurse Ashley Blevins told KYTV-TV in Springfield, Missouri, that she felt the pandemic has contributed to the rise in violent incidents. She says that Cox Medical Center has been overcrowded at times in the past year and a half due to a high number of COVID-19 patients, leading to long wait times.
"They come in here, and they have to sit in here because everywhere's full," Blevins told KYTV. "We have no placements to put anybody, and that's frustrating on the patient. That's frustrating on us, and I think that's increasing a lot of violence towards everyone."
The hospital said in its Facebook post that it hopes to have the system up and running by the end of the year.