Friends and colleagues of a Franklin Hospital psychiatric nurse who was attacked by a patient last week held a vigil Tuesday in hopes that the woman has a speedy recovery and to raise awareness of nurses like her who have been victims of workplace violence.
“We are appalled by this senseless act of violence against one of our own,” said Joseph Manopella, executive director of the hospital in North Valley Stream, which is a member of the North Shore-LIJ health system. “She is part of our family and when one of our family members is victimized, we take it very, very personally.”
A judge ordered Donte Oakes held on $100,000 bail at Nassau County jail after police charged him with assault and criminal possession of a weapon. The 23-year-old Queens man was “in an agitated state” when he allegedly broke a off a chair leg and assaulted the nurse from behind, police said.
The 53-year-old victim was treated at the emergency room before being transferred to the trauma center at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset where she was treated for serious injuries to her head, face and neck. She was released Monday and is recovering at home.
Dozens of nurses gathered outside the hospital on Franklin Avenue to rally for their coworker, who they estimated has touched hundreds of thousands of lives in her nearly three decades in the field. Nurse union leaders rallied the group to highlight the frequency of violence against nurses—another psychiatric nurse was severely beaten in Buffalo last month—and recently passed legislation that will stiffen the penalty for assaulting nurses.
“Nursing shouldn’t be a dangerous job,” said Lorraine Seidel, MA, RN, director of the Nurses Association’s Economic and General Welfare program. She noted that an estimated more than 400,000 nurses are victims of workplace violence annually.“It is absolutely unacceptable that we find ourselves – again – gathering to support an injured colleague.”
The 37,000-member association had lobbied for the new law that makes it a felony to assault a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN) while on duty—similar to the harsher sentence given to those convicted of assaulting a police officer or firefighter. The law goes into effect on Nov. 1.
Oakes is due back in court on Wednesday.