A receptionist works the ER department at Campbell County Health in Gillette on June 22, 2020. (Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile)

The Joint Judiciary Committee voted Tuesday against sponsoring a bill aimed at enhancing penalties for those who assault or threaten violence against healthcare providers.

Why it Matters: Proponents of the bill said it was an important step in protecting healthcare workers from rising violence in the industry. 

  • Between Jan. 2021 and June, 2022 Wyoming healthcare workers reported 121 incidents of violence via workers compensation claims, according to testimony delivered by Wyoming Hospital Association Vice President Josh Hannes. 
  • Advocates said failing to pass the legislation could put Wyoming at a disadvantage when it comes to recruiting healthcare workers because most other states have passed some sort of extra penalties. 
  • “I’ve been spit on. I’ve been pushed, kicked, knocked over,” said Lisa Harry, a Campbell County board of health trustee. “You expect that. But these kinds of incidents have increased so much that I have to question is this enough? What we’re doing is not working. We aren’t protecting our workers.”

Why it failed: Some lawmakers said that while they want to find a solution to the issue, they thought the enhanced penalties wouldn’t actually help solve the problem. 

  • “We talked about law enforcement having special protections in our statutes,” Rep. Karlee Provenza (D-Laramie) said. “And we heard from law enforcement last time that that hasn’t stopped them from being assaulted either.”
  • Sen. John Kolb (R-Rock Springs) said that testimony showed the bill would “not deter people from doing what they’ve been doing in violence against healthcare workers. And I’ll stand opposed to legislation that effectively does not help.” 

Sofia Jeremias reports on healthcare, education and the economy in Wyoming. She received her master's degree from the Columbia Journalism School and previously reported on the West for Deseret News.

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  1. I feel it’s pointless to do anything. But I was physically assaulted July 29th. What was a bruised and swollen shoulder. Weeks of physical therapy. Found that due to the assault. I have a torn rotator cuff, and a torn bicep tendons. Been in pain since it happened. Now I’m having surgery to fix my shoulder. Everyone is telling me to sue. The guy did get arrested. He’s being charged with battery. His next court date is March. He told the judge. Jail doesn’t scare me! He has a violent background. Other charges pending. That jerk face has not a care. Yet. I’m suffering with an injury. That I have to have surgically fixed. Not to mention the emotional pain, the fear I now have. The dreams that he finds me. There is a restraining order. It’s set for 3 years. He cannot come within 500 yards of me.
    I do wish there were harsher punishments for these attacks. I love my job. I love helping patients. But I work in fear everyday

  2. I’ve known several doctors in residence in Wyoming in the last few years. None has chosen to stay in Wyoming. The general attitude about health care in Wyoming drives them away. The attitude towards teaching is no different. Not many teachers want to move here because of it. Limited healthcare and education, limits Wyoming potential.

  3. We who are aware see the cause and the solution.
    Stop pushing the fake protocols that do not save lives.
    Stop “doing harm” by following the dictates of the fake scientists.
    Give patients cures, and do not make the problem worse.
    Sad how people can’t tell they are being lied to.

  4. While most health care workers are good people and easy to get along with. Some are absolute jerks and kind of have it coming.

  5. Sen. John Kolb (R-Rock Springs) said that testimony showed the bill would “not deter people from doing what they’ve been doing in violence against healthcare workers. And I’ll stand opposed to legislation that effectively does not help.”

    You can really tell who the republican party cares about with statements like this. If laws didnt deter criminals, why have any of them?

    1. funny how it is that nurses find the existing criminals from the jails and the pens much better mannered than those who haven’t been arrested, tried, convicted and imprisoned, yet
      LOCK EM UP for assault for gawd’s sake