Bill Would Require Hospital Training For 'High-Risk' Prisoners

Lisa Fielding
May 07, 2018 - 4:48 pm
Hospital Room

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Nearly a year after suburban hospital nurses were taken hostage by an inmate receiving treatment, legislators are considering whether to put protections in place at all health care facilities in Illinois.

"Initially, I met a woman named Sonia who was an ER nurse and she told me about some of the situations that have happened to her, and we had then passed a bill that enhanced penalties for violence against nurses. Then I went to a rally many years later and realized that things haven't changed at all and the workplace was far more violent than I could ever imagined," said State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego.

Kifowit said she plans to call this week for final House approval of a bill that would require workplace violence training at all facilities that employ nurses, as well as provide whistleblower protections for workers who report assaults.

"One of the things we are working toward is better communication. We've been working with the Nurses Association and they say they want to know when the (Illinois) Department of Corrections is bringing in an inmate, they want their records and any prior issues," Kifowit said.

It's called the Nurses Violence Prevention Act, and it would require workplace violence training at all facilities that employ nurses and certify police officers in transport training.

"We are tasking the Illinois Training Board to create a ‘High Risk Prisoner Transport Program.’ When you have a situation when an officer is not familiar with high-stress prison transport, like in Delnor, errors happen, and they did,” she said.

The measure also identifies safety protocols for IDOC and the Department of Juvenile Justice when inmates need outside medical attention.

"If the officers are continually trained for high-stress situation, they can quickly jump to action and de-neutralize the situation which didn't happen in Delnor,” the lawmaker said.

On May 13, 2017, a standoff at Delnor Hospital in west suburban Geneva ended after an inmate who took two hospital employees hostage was shot to death by a SWAT team officer.

Two employees on the hospital’s nursing staff were taken hostage inside a room in the emergency room area. The man held a gun to their heads and reportedly raped one of the women before he was shot and killed by police.

The women have filed a lawsuit that alleges that the Kane County sheriff’s officers guarding 22-year-old Tywon M. Salters watched TV, napped, talked on their cellphones and repeatedly unshackled Salters so that he could use the bathroom.

It was while he was unshackled that Salters wrestled a gun from one of the guards.

Kifowit says she hopes the bill will pass the House this week and then move to the full Senate.