Video of a nurse handcuffed and hauled away by a Utah police officer surfaced this week—and I have to say, it’s pretty disturbing.
In the body-cam footage, University of Utah Hospital burn unit charge nurse Alex Wubbels is seen on the phone with a supervisor, a copy of the hospital’s blood draw policy in hand. She explains to Detective Jeff Payne that she’s unable to draw the blood he’s requested from a patient involved in a crash because the patient is unconscious (thus can’t give consent), isn’t under arrest, and the officer doesn’t have a court order.
Sounds reasonable, right?
But seconds later, things go off the rails. Det. Payne tells Nurse Wubbels, “We’re done,” wrenches her arms behind her back as she exclaims in disbelief, and tells her she’s being arrested.
For following hospital policy.
Maybe you have the same response I did after seeing the footage: nurses are amazing.
I’ve delivered four babies within hospital walls, sat by several bedsides of family and friends who’ve chanced upon hospital stays, and visited my husband, who works at our local hospital, there countless times over the years.
Here’s what I’ve observed about the many nurses I’ve encountered:
They juggle 6,000 duties simultaneously.
They somehow remain incredibly focused.
They never seem to eat.
(Same with bathroom breaks.)
They see gross things without flinching.
They do gross things without flinching.
They drop what they’re doing and hurry wherever they’re needed, whenever they’re needed.
They do an outrageous amount of charting and note-taking.
They’re crammed in nurses stations that are usually way too small.
They keep their composure when alarms and monitors scream.
(Same when people are doing the screaming.)
They calm stressed out family members.
They instinctively give comfort.
They handle never-ending questions patiently.
They work long hours.
My heart goes out to that nurse in Utah, because I can see in her body language and hear in her voice what’s driving her in that moment: she’s serving her patient. Yet somehow, that basic duty of nursing landed her inside a police cruiser, handcuffs around her wrists, with a heart full of hurt.
Nurse Wubbels was released after about 20 minutes—no charges filed—and has since gotten an apology from the police department and the Salt Lake City mayor; the detective and a second officer involved have been placed on leave pending an investigation.
But more than an apology, I think that nurse deserves a thank you.
I think all nurses deserve a thank you.
So, for standing up for patient rights, even in the face of threats;
For keeping your cool when others might be losing theirs;
For quietly working hard, and long, and with incredible heart—