Startling Image Shows the Realities of Violence Against Healthcare Providers

A photo shared by the Massachusetts Nurses Association is going viral.

Just a few days after its strike at Tufts Medical Center came to a close, the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) is calling attention to another issue plaguing nurses: violence against healthcare professionals.

The MNA on Tuesday shared a startling image of Elise Wilson, a registered nurse at Harrington Hospital, in Southbridge. The image, which has been shared on Facebook more than 13,000 times, shows Wilson’s extensive wounds after being stabbed multiple times by an emergency department patient last month. According to the caption, she was taken by helicopter to UMass Memorial Medical Center for lifesaving surgery.

“Elise is only smiling because she is grateful her ventilator and feeding tube have been removed,” the caption reads.

The MNA is using the photo to drum up support for Elise’s Law, legislation proposed by the union that would require healthcare providers to develop and implement workplace violence prevention programs. Wilson’s husband and colleagues will testify at the State House on her behalf on Wednesday.

While Wilson’s case has received special attention, registered nurse Tracy DiGregorio says in an MNA statement that violence against nurses is not uncommon. “Unfortunately, I cannot say violence against nurses is rare,” she says. “Nurses and other health care professionals are assaulted every single day at hospitals throughout Massachusetts. We should pass ‘Elise’s Law’ right away to help stop the violence.”

Safety and security also played a large role in Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s narrowly averted nurses strike last year. After the hospital was rocked by a shooting in 2015, nurses called for better on-site security protocols.

“We didn’t think that was going to happen in our hospital; nobody ever thinks that’s going to happen in their hospital,” labor and delivery nurse Kelly Morgan said at the time. “We’re not trying to capitalize on that, but we’re trying to learn from that.”