by John R. Fischer
, Senior Reporter | February 01, 2022
Two healthcare workers are recovering after being violently attacked by a patient at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, North Carolina.
The incident occurred in the hospital’s emergency department when Rothwell Jacob Simmons, 24, allegedly pushed the first victim to the ground and choked her until she fell unconscious. He then tried to strangle and snap the second victim’s neck. The first victim reportedly sustained internal injuries, while the second was left with neck injuries and contusions.
Simmons appeared in court Wednesday where he was charged with two counts of attempted murder and two counts of assault by strangulation. His bond was set at $7.5 million, according to Star-News
Novant Health, the parent company of the hospital, confirmed the incident took place but would not disclose the extent of both womens’ injuries. "At this time, we can confirm that two team members were injured Tuesday afternoon by an individual inside of NHRMC’s emergency department. I cannot tell you the extent of the injuries at this time. Our first concern is for the employees and their families,” said a spokesperson in a statement.
The spokesperson added that NHRMC company police are investigating the incident.
When asked in court if he wanted to hire his own attorney, Simmons told the judge, “I’m not sure man, I don’t know what the hell got into me.”
An attorney was appointed for Simmons. He is due to appear in court again on February 3, according to NBC-affiliate, WECT/Channel 6 News
Additionally, the judge ordered that Simmons’ bond remain at $7.5 million, in accordance with laws passed in 2015 and 2019 to protect healthcare workers. District Attorney Ben David says the laws reflect the potential physical harm that hospital workers face in their work environment. “They work in a dynamic environment and sometimes they are subjected to real harm, and not just from airborne illness like we’re all experiencing right now with COVID, but sometimes with assaultive conduct. When that happens, it has the highest priority in my office. These people really put their lives on the line, we should remember that.”
Violence against healthcare workers is considered a rising epidemic, with federal data saying that healthcare workers are nine times more likely to be a victim of intentional workplace violence than employees in other industries.