SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — More and more healthcare workers are facing threats and attacks, an issue only getting worse at hospitals across the region. Hospital leaders are now working together to put an end to this behavior and protect their staff. It’s all part of a new Respect and Heal Campaign, a joint effort between area hospitals and healthcare systems across the region.

Violence against healthcare workers is on the rise. Hospitals as close as Upstate to as far as Rome are all facing the same problem.

“It may be patients acting out either physically or verbally abusing staff. Family members sometimes, visitors,” said Meredith Price, president of St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Price says St. Joseph’s averages about 10 violent incidents a month, and it’s not just happening in a specific department. Price says it’s impacting all of its caregivers.

Some workers have been spit on, punched or even received death threats and bomb threats.

Jeremy Donohue, a registered nurse at Oswego Health, knows this violent behavior all too well. He has worked at Oswego Health since 2018 and has experienced frightening behavior on several occasions. But two incidents stand out the most, including the most recent one happening last year.

“He assaulted me, punched me in the head multiple times, punched me in my arms, my shoulders. My coworker that was present also was hit multiple times,” said Donohue.

The abuse came from a patient.

“Afterwards, I did end up being seen by our provider in the emergency department and was told that I had suffered a concussion. I did miss the next day’s work and was off for a stretch after that, fortunately, so I could recover,” said Donohue.

But once he recovered, Donohue says he started experiencing anxiety when he returned to work.

“I fortunately was able to get an order of protection after the second incident with that individual. It’s not very often that that occurs. The police tend to not take these incidents very seriously,” Donohue said.

Hospital leaders and staff are hoping police, local leaders, DAs and government can help put an end to this issue.