Cal-OSHA has fined Children's Hospital Oakland for not adequately protecting their employees against workplace violence -- namely, against the invasion of the hospital by gun-wielding criminals who have caused several dramatic incidents in the last year, including a hostage situation.
As the Contra Costa Times reports, a 49-year-old gunman "held a registered nurse and a ward clerk hostage" last July, before being subdued by police.
Then in October, a gunshot victim was dropped off in front of the hospital, instead of at the Emergency Room door, and in the chaos that followed several nurses reported feeling unsafe while they tended to the victim outside the hospital walls. One ER nurse at that scene, Anna Smith, blames the hospital in part for not providing adequate training for handling such situations. Furthermore, she says, "We are experiencing more violent incidents recently and are not equipped to deal with them." As the Chron reports, some of this complaint may stem from a contract dispute with nurses that remains unresolved.
The hospital, for its part, objects to being portrayed as though it were in the center of a war zone, and feels both Cal-OSHA and the nurses have sensationalized the above mentioned events. Hospital president Bert Lubin says the action by Cal-OSHA stems "from the mistaken belief that because the hospital is in an urban setting, violent criminals are likely to pursue victims who are brought to the hospital for care, creating a threat to hospital staff... Indeed, at one point, the investigator compared Oakland to the violence found in the streets of Mexico City. The facts do not support this assertion."