It would be a frightening moment in the workplace for anyone: a person you are trying to help suddenly attacks. That’s exactly what happened in 2017 to Courtney Holder, an emergency room nurse at Staten Island University Hospital South. A patient with mental health issues punched and choked the 28-year-old nurse until she blacked out. Fellow nurses rushed to her side and rescued her from the assailant.
Holder’s union also had her back. The Federation of Nurses/UFT for years had pushed to make it a felony to assault a nurse, and in 2010 the Violence against Nurses law was enacted. Holder’s assailant, who pleaded guilty to a felony count of attempted second-degree assault, was sentenced to two to four years in prison on May 4 in State Supreme Court on Staten Island.
A contingent of UFT members filled the courtroom that day to lend their support. In her victim impact statement, Holder spoke about how her choice of a nursing career fulfilled her commitment to helping people. She was eager to get back to the work she loves.
Nurses have a demanding job and they deal with crises on a regular basis. They deserve a safe and secure environment in which to perform their life-saving work. Members of the Federation of Nurses/UFT know they have the union at their side, fighting for working conditions that allow them to do their jobs without fear.
It took courage for Holder to face her assailant in court. But over the year since the attack, she has never been alone. Her coworkers and her union have been standing with her throughout the traumatic ordeal. Standing together is what we do.