Geisinger aims to curb aggressive behavior against staff with visitor pledge

SCRANTON, Pa. – Geisinger has instituted a partnership pledge between its patients and visitors and its healthcare workers to remind people that hospitals and outpatient clinics are places of hope, healing and respect.

Incidents of aggression and violence against Geisinger staff have noticeably increased over the past two years. This partnership pledge outlines behaviors that are not acceptable as employees work to care for patients.

According to Sean McGinley, senior director of security operations at Geisinger, there was a 21% rise in incidents involving patients or visitors exhibiting combative behavior across Geisinger from 2020 to 2021. Combative behavior can range from unusual verbal aggression to full-blown physical assault.

“Healthcare workers are trained to take care of patients on their worst days. It’s part of the profession they accept and handle with grace and compassion,” said Kirk Thomas, chief administrative officer in Geisinger’s western region. “That said, they deserve to do their jobs without fear of violence or aggression. For healthcare workers, verbal abuse or physical injury from the patients and guests they care for is not acceptable.”

The pledge specifies that aggressive behavior will not be tolerated. That means:

• No abusive language

• No threatening behavior

• No physical assaults

• No weapons or illegal drugs

• No harassment or discrimination of any kind

Those who violate these guidelines will lose visitation privileges. The pledge also calls out that in Pennsylvania, it’s a felony to assault a healthcare worker. Anyone who does so will be removed from the property and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Posters and flyers with the pledge are displayed in emergency rooms, hospital screening areas and outpatient facilities. All patients and visitors are asked to read the pledge when entering Geisinger hospitals and clinics. By choosing to help keep healthcare workers safe, everyone can guarantee better care for themselves and their community.

Thomas added, “Our caregivers have devoted their professional lives to the communities they serve. They should never feel unsafe at work. I’m humbled to be part of a care team that never wavered in their commitment during the COVID pandemic. They have been there — and continue to be there — to care for their communities. They simply ask that their neighbors be there for them in return.”

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