A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

John Schickel: Gov. Bevin signing of Senate Bill 42 at St. Elizabeth a big day for the Commonwealth

August 23 was a big day for Boone County, the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and all the hospital patients and health care workers in the state. Governor Matt Bevin traveled to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Florence to ceremonially sign Senate Bill 42. The bill has actually been law for several months.

Left to right, State Rep. Sal Santoro (R-Florence), Gov. Matt Bevin and State Sen. John Schickel (R-Union) at the ceremonial signing of SB42 at St. Elizabeth Florence. Florence Police Chief John McDermond is in the background (photos by Patrick Reddy for St. Elizabeth Healthcare).

Why is Senate Bill 42 so important? It allows police to arrest on probable cause on hospital grounds or in the hospital parking lot for a misdemeanor, typically assault in the fourth degree. This problem was brought to my attention several years ago by longtime St. Elizabeth nurse, Linda Robinson, and her retired police officer husband, “Smoky” Robinson.

In the past, when someone would become disorderly in the hospital, a police officer could not make an arrest to resolve the situation and protect patients and personnel. A complaint had to be filed at the county attorney’s office the next day, and typically by that time the damage had already been done. This bill simply allows police, county attorneys, and judges the flexibility they need to deal with these difficult situations. With the increase in drug abuse, the incidents in our hospitals have skyrocketed, often spilling over and affecting innocent individuals who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Senate Bill 58, which I sponsored and passed in 2012, just applied to emergency rooms and it has been very successful. This legislation simply extends the same protection to the entirety of the hospital, including its parking lots. St. Elizabeth Hospital, Linda Robinson, and an entire group of nurses from across the state worked tirelessly on this issue and did a great grassroots job selling it in Frankfort, therefore making my job relatively easy.

It was great to have everyone at the St. Elizabeth Hospital celebrating this new law on Wednesday, including State Representative Sal Santoro who handled the bill in the House; St. Elizabeth CEO Garren Colvin and lots of other folks from St. Elizabeth Hospital; Chief of Police John McDermond; Boone County Sheriff Mike Helmig; Florence Fire Chief Kelly Aylor; Florence Mayor Diane Whalen; Union Mayor Larry Solomon; Boone County Judge Executive Gary Moore; State Representative Addia Wuchner; State Representative Diane St. Onge; and of course, our most honored guest who traveled all the way from Frankfort to be with us, the Honorable Governor Matt Bevin.

This legislation was a great example of something we can do with existing resources at no additional cost to protect people at one of their most vulnerable times: when they are patients or health care workers.

Note:  Senator John Schickel (R-Union) represents the 11th District in Boone County.

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