Every day they work to save lives but on more than 160 occasions last year, the efforts of Border public hospital staff were met with violence, aggression or abuse.
Albury Wodonga Health reported 165 incidents where an employee was abused, threatened or assaulted in the course of their employment in 2015-16.
Operations director of emergency service and access Tracy Nisbett said staff throughout the organisation faced unacceptable occupational violence.
“People come to work to be safe and do their job and have to face these sort of behaviours,” she said.
Ms Nisbett said the $30 million Albury Base Hospital redevelopment would include a safe room, but the organisation had applied for funding to construct a safe room in Wodonga and the current Albury emergency department.
Albury Wodonga Health chief executive Leigh McJames said the Albury hospital revamp would start in 2018 or 2019.
Ms Nisbett said with the new development a few years away it was important staff were protected in the interim.
“We need to provide a safe places in both emergency departments, the same risks are in both emergency departments,” she said.
Ms Nisbett said administration, ward and emergency department staff could all be subject to abuse by frustrated patients, especially those affected by drugs or alcohol.
“It eats away resilience,” she said. “It’s a lot of verbal aggression and day on day it builds and has a similar affect as physical violence.”
Ms Nesbitt said Albury Wodonga Health had an occupational violence hotline and welfare checks on staff.
“It’s a choice to act this way and it’s not tolerated,” she said.
Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said violence could happen across all areas of a hospital.
“The families of nurses, midwives, doctors and paramedics should not have to worry if they will come home safely tonight,” she said.
“We have reports of parents shoving nurses in the emergency departments because they’re frustrated at the long wait for their child, ex-partners of mothers who’ve just given birth venting their anger at the midwife, patients throwing furniture at nurses, and stressed relatives assaulting palliative care nurses.”