BayCare Commends New Florida Law Addressing Workplace Violence

May 26, 2023
Two BayCare leaders talk with an elected official in their Tallahassee office.
BayCare Chief Nurse Executive Lisa Johnson and Co-Chief Operating Officer Kimberly Guy talk with Florida state Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez of Miami about addressing workplace violence.


An idea born seven years ago in a meeting at one of BayCare’s hospitals is now Florida law, assuring hospital personnel statewide that their safety matters and they deserve recognition as front-line workers.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday, May 24, signed House Bill 825 into law, increasing penalties for individuals who assault any hospital personnel. Previously, enhanced penalties, which also apply to assaults on other front-line workers such as police and fire, had only applied to personnel in hospital emergency rooms. The new law is effective Oct. 1, 2023.

“It is a good day for every Florida hospital and the people who work there,” said BayCare Chief Nursing Executive Lisa Johnson, who traveled to Tallahassee this year, along with CEO Stephanie

Conners and other BayCare leaders, to meet with legislators and advocate for passage. “Our team members on the front line appreciate knowing their communities support and value their safety.”

It was the fifth annual session that BayCare advocated for a new law that would recognize that every member on a hospital team is on the front line. This year they were joined with robust support from colleagues at the Florida Hospital Association, helping to push the bills to the House and Senate floors for passage. 

This year’s bill sponsors were Rep. Kim Berfield of Clearwater and Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez of Miami, part of a list of legislative leaders who have long seen the value in changing the law, including

Sen. Darryl Rouson of St. Petersburg, Rep. Traci Koster of Tampa, Rep. Daisy Baez of Miami and Sen. Denise Grimsley of Sebring.

BayCare began seeking to change the law in 2017 after a fateful meeting at its St. Anthony’s Hospital with local law enforcement personnel from St. Petersburg Police Department and the State

Attorney’s Office brought to light the disparity in state law. Under the old law, if a team member was assaulted while working in an emergency department, the assailant could be more severely punished than if the team member was assaulted in a patient’s room or a hallway.

“Acts of violence in our hospital affect not just the victim, but everyone on the team and can even impact our patients,” said Sr. Mary McNally, vice president for Mission integration at SAH. “It’s important that we recognize and support these team members.”

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