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Governor signs law to prevent assaults on health care workers

Dan Tuohy/NHPR

Health care facilities in New Hampshire will have to implement and maintain workplace violence prevention programs under a new law.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu signed seven bills into law this week, including a Senate bill designed to require the violence prevention programs and establish a health care workplace safety commission, according to his office.

Lawmakers began working to create the new requirements after the death of a hospital security guard who was assaulted at work in December 2020. Richard Semo, 64, of Farmington, died from injuries sustained in an attack in the parking lot of Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester. The man who attacked him pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in 2021.

Sununu held a bill signing Friday outside the hospital. Tim Jones, chief executive officer of Frisbie Memorial Hospital, spoke about Semo. Jones also told the governor that health care workers deal with abuse far too often, and there has been an increase in verbal and physical assaults nationwide during the pandemic, according to Fosters Daily Democrat.

Health facilities that are considered urgent care centers must comply with the new state requirement by July 1, 2024.

Among the other laws signed by Sununu, one aims to ensure that school districts offer co-curricular activities accessible to students with disabilities and another appropriates funding for police to expand the use of dashboard and body cameras.

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