Las Vegas cops, nurses have mutual respect

Don’t expect to hear about a Las Vegas cop manhandling and arresting a hospital nurse for protecting the privacy rights of a patient.

That’s the word from Southern Nevada nurses, law enforcement and hospital executives in the wake of a confrontation between a Salt Lake City cop and a University of Utah Hospital nurse. The incident attracted nationwide attention recently after a video was released of the cop trying unsuccessfully to force the nurse to get a blood sample from an unconscious patient.

“University Medical Center has such a great relationship with Metro Police,” said Antoinette Mullan, a clinical supervisor in the trauma resuscitation unit at UMC. “I cannot see this ever happening. I hate to use the word ‘never’… but that’s how I feel. Our relationship is that good.”

Fran Jacques, vice president of marketing at Sunrise Hospital, also doesn’ t see such an incident occurring.

“Our relationship is very collaborative,” she said.

Officer Jay Rivera, who works in public information for the Metropolitan Police Department, said any local cop who’s had “Police 101” knows he has to get a warrant for a blood sample if an individual either can’t or won’t give consent.

According to Rivera, every Las Vegas cop has had “Police 101.”

On Monday University of Utah Hospital executives held a news conference in which Gordon Crabtree, the hospital’s interim CEO, praised burn unit nurse Alex Wubbels for placing her safety at risk to protect a patient’s privacy rights.

In July, following hospital regulations and federal privacy law, she refused to allow Salt Lake City police Detective Jeff Payne to get a a blood sample from an unconscious truck driver who had been involved in a mishap stemming from police pursuit of a suspect.

The nurse obtained a copy of the police body cam video of the confrontation, which was released last week and has since gone viral.

Although Mullan understands why Utah hospital officials are angry — she says she found the confrontation where the nurse was handcuffed “horrific” — she believes the hospital has measures that “make little sense.”

At the Monday press conference, hospital officials announced that officers are barred from patient-care areas and from direct contact with nurses — measures taken quietly in the aftermath of the confrontation.

“I’d be scared to not have police in the trauma unit with some of the people who are brought in here,” she said. “If I don’t have police by my side, I’m quite nervous. Often they’re unruly and ready to fight. Police and hospital staff have to get along.”

She also said there are times when a police officer has to ask a nurse about the condition to know how to proceed with an investigation. “If there’s going to be a fatal, the investigation is going to be different,” she said.

Jacques also said police have always been, and will remain, in patient care areas.

“Metro has even collaborated with us on our campus security,” she said.

Contact Paul Harasim at pharasim@reviewjournal.com or 702 387-5273. Follow @paulharasim on Twitter.

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