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Union Nurses and Caregivers Push for Important Safety Bill

IMG_3109 (1)HB1880 would allow all healthcare workers to display only their first names on ID badges to curb stalking and harassment

Nurses and other healthcare workers across the state are pushing the PA senate to move HB1880, which would remove the requirement for healthcare workers’ last names to be displayed on their photo ID badges.

“It’s a long time coming,” said Kaylee Colemire, RN. “Given the sensitive services we provide, it’s unnecessary and dangerous to have our full names displayed. It puts healthcare workers at risk, especially with the rise of social media.”

On January 28, nurses sat down with Senator and RN Maria Collett and caregivers from across the state visited dozens of other legislators to share their own experiences with stalking and harassment and how they believe these incidents could be curbed by this bill.

“We have all found so much great reward being healthcare providers, but we have to balance that by making sure people are coming into an environment that’s rewarding and safe,” said Senator Maria Collett, RN. “We have to provide protection for frontline caregivers. I’m proud to be a cosponsor of SB 842 because it does exactly that. It replaces last names on ID badges with other unique identifiers for providers, and gives more privacy for caregivers. We are excited about this legislation moving forward.”

In recent years, serious incidents of workplace violence were  four times more likely in healthcare than in any other industry. Those who IMG_3242work in hospitals, nursing homes, and state health facilities find themselves the victims of violence, stalking and harassment by the very people to whom they are providing care. Current ID requirements that include the workers’ photo and full name has made it too easy for ill-intentioned individuals to target healthcare workers.

“A patient’s family member found me on social media, took a screenshot of my profile picture with my mom and my sister, and encouraged people to try and get me fired. The post was shared multiple times and I received private messages from strangers with threats and racial slurs,” said Sarah, an RN from Western PA. “It made me feel really unsafe. If this person didn’t have my last name, would any of this have happened?”

“A key part of our mission is to ensure the safety of our members and all healthcare workers,” said Matthew Yarnell, President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania. “It is extremely important for us as a union to push this bill and make sure it becomes law. The health and wellbeing of workers is at stake, and passing HB1880 will be an important step in protecting our members both inside and outside the workplace.”

In a recent poll, 97% of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania members indicated overwhelming support for these laws. “Working in the ER, I’ve had people hunt me down because they saw my last name on my badge,” wrote one member on Facebook. “I was harassed and my home vandalized.”

SB 842 passed the Senate on Nov, 19, 2019 and will now move to the House. HB 1880, the house version of the legislation, passed the on Nov. 21, 2019 and moved to the Senate for concurrence.

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