Utah Hospital, Police Change Protocol Following Nurse’s Arrest
New hospital policies ban police officers from entering patient-care areas and require that they check in instead of entering through the emergency room.
The University of Utah Hospital and the Salt Lake City Police Department have implemented policy changes after video footage released last week showed a nurse being arrested after she wouldn’t let a detective draw blood from an unconscious patient.
The video shows Nurse Alex Wubbels being handled roughly and eventually arrested by a Salt Lake City detective. Prior to her arrest, Wubbels is seen showing the detective hospital policies for drawing blood from patients, which had previously been agreed upon by the police department. None of the instances where an officer is allowed to legally draw blood applied to the patient in question.
In a news conference on Monday, University Hospital CEO Gordon Crabtree says changes were put in place back in August following the incident.
A new policy allows only senior house supervisors, not nurses, to interact with law enforcement. Police are also no longer allowed in patient-care areas.
Margaret Pearce, chief nursing officer, says the new policies will allow nurses to devote themselves completely to the patient with no interruptions, according to The Washington Post.
Law officers will also have to check in instead of entering through the emergency room.
Crabtree calls the officer’s actions out of line and says that the hospital took action long before the video footage was released.
“There’s absolutely no tolerance for that kind of behavior in our hospital,” says Crabtree. “Nurse Wubbels was placed in an unfair and unwarranted position. Her actions are nothing less than exemplary.”
Wubbels says one reason for releasing the video is that university police did not intervene.
“This cop bullied me. He bullied me to the utmost extreme, and nobody stood in his way. And that should have originally been the job of security and the university police,” says Wubbels. “And they decided that when they showed up, they didn’t want to play for my team, and so they essentially put on the other guys’ jersey.”
Also during Monday’s news conference, University of Utah Police Chief Dale Brophy apologized to Wubbels and the hospital staff for his original response to the incident. Brophy says he did not watch the footage until last Thursday. After seeing it, he says he realized that he had not taken it seriously enough.
Wubbels says while her conversations with the Salt Lake City police were progressive, her conversations with university police were not. “They wanted to walk down a path of positive change, but I did not have the same response from the University police and the University security.”
Brophy agreed with Wubbles, stating that the meeting he had with her was before he had viewed the body camera footage.
After seeing the footage, Brophy says it is clear that Wubbels’ arrest was “completely mishandled”, reports Deseret News.
Brophy says his officers will undergo training in de-escalation to prevent these situations in the future.
Salt Lake City Officials Issue Statement, Apology
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and Salt Lake City Police Department Chief Mike Brown released a joint statement on Friday regarding the incident.
Biskupski says the video footage was “completely unacceptable to the values of my Administration and of the values of the Salt Lake City Police Department.” She also apologized to Wubbels for what she endured while “simply doing her job.”
Both Internal Affairs and the Civilian Review Board are examining the incident, says Biskupski.
The statement also says Biskupski has ordered Chief Brown to “conduct a thorough review of all policies and training to ensure respect for all individuals, in all situations.”
In the statement, Chief Brown says within 24 hours of the incident, the Salt Lake City Police Department met with the hospital CEO, COO, Nursing Management Team, its legal representatives, and Chief Brophy.
Brown says the arresting officer was removed from the blood draw unit and that all remaining officers in the program are operating under new policy and protocol put forth following the incident.
“I believe we can learn from mistakes and from building strong relationships with everyone we work with and serve. By doing that we become a stronger police department”, says Brown.
Wubbels says she is not speaking out to “police the police”. She says they need to do that themselves if they want to regain trust from both her and the public.