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2 Mercy Hospital South employees injured after being assaulted by patient

Two employees, one who is pregnant, were assaulted by a patient Sunday night. A former employee says abuse on the job is becoming too common.

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Two Mercy Hospital South workers are recovering after a patient assaulted them earlier this week.

The St. Louis County Police Department confirmed it had responded to a call for an assault Sunday. The department said an arrest was eventually made for the assault. Police did not say which assault it had responded to, or if it was both instances. 

One employee has a concussion, and the other was pregnant at the time of the attack and is getting checked to make sure her baby's OK.

They both are shaken up right now and are lawyering up before making any public comment.

5 On Your Side's Pepper Baker spoke with a former Mercy South employee who was sad to hear this happened but wasn't surprised.

"I've been punched. I've been kicked. I've been punched in the face," the former employee said.

She recalls the times she says she's been abused by her patients.

"We're conditioned to accept it as just the way it is. When you get assaulted at work, it's not even an issue most of the time as long as it wasn't a major assault," she said.

It's a familiar story for other healthcare workers in the region.

Back in July, two healthcare workers were stabbed by a patient at SSM Health DePaul.

The I-Team investigated the incident and heard from other healthcare workers that violence has been an ongoing issue. They reported to 5 On Your Side they have been "kicked in the shoulder," "scratched, bit" and "slapped" on shift. 

SSM Health Depaul Hospital emailed 5 On Your Side saying they have "an armed guard in the emergency department 24 hours per day," after the incident. 

Now, two Mercy Hospital South workers were assaulted by a patient. 

"When I worked there you would page security and hope that they could come, but they also have other areas of the hospital. There's not always somebody dedicated to the ER to respond," the former Mercy South employee said.

"If you are a nurse or a nurse's aide, or any of these frontline health professions it should not be part of your job description that you are a punching bag," Dave Dillon with the Missouri Hospital Association said.

Dave Dillon visited a conference this week discussing safety in the healthcare workplace.

"The public doesn't want us to harden our environments either. They want these to be places of health. They want these to be places of safety, and they don't want them to be like prisons," Dillon said.

They've implemented de-escalation strategies and looked into providing more security, but say each hospital's needs are on a case-by-case basis.

"Since there is currently no right answer on exactly how you do this so that it works across every hospital, it's going to be a lot of work to do this, and it's going to be very local work," Dillon said.

"All we try to do is help people and this is the thanks that we are getting in return is to be assaulted at your place of work," the former employee said.

Mercy Hospital South sent a statement saying:

"On Sunday evening, there were two separate incidents in which a nurse and two techs in the Mercy Hospital South ER were assaulted and injured. Please join us in praying for these co-workers and wishing them a speedy recovery from the physical and mental tolls they suffered while serving our patients. As we support these co-workers with their needs, we ask our entire community to please show patience and kindness to health care workers everywhere as they work through the stress and challenges that too often face them while dedicating their lives to caring for others."

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