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Vol. 81/No. 34      September 18, 2017


Utah nurse arrested for defending patient’s rights

A body camera video that went viral has exposed the July 26 brutish arrest and mistreatment of University of Utah Hospital nurse Alex Wubbels by Jeff Payne, a Salt Lake City cop. The incident was captured on a video released by Wubbels and her lawyer Aug. 31.

A hundred protesters mounted a rally organized by Utah Against Police Brutality outside the Salt Lake City Police Department Sept. 2 calling for Payne to be fired.

Wubbels, the charge nurse in the burn unit, told Payne repeatedly that she could not draw a sample of blood from her unconscious patient and give it to him. It was against hospital policy and nurses’ ethics. The patient had to give consent or be under arrest, or the cop had to have a warrant.

William Gray, the patient, was a truck driver who had been in a head-on collision. The driver who hit him was fleeing the police and was killed in the crash.

Wubbels’ defense of Gray’s rights — and her professional dignity — so infuriated Payne that he manhandled her, pushing her through two sets of emergency room doors. He handcuffed her and forced her into an unmarked police car.

Wubbels cried out, “Somebody help me,” and “you’re hurting me,” but several university hospital police refused to do anything. The University of Utah hospital has since barred police from patient care areas and from direct contact with nurses.

National Nurses United, the largest nurses’ union nationwide, called a press conference Aug. 31. “The first job of a registered nurse is always to protect and advocate for her patient, period,” Jean Ross, co-president of the union, said, calling the cop’s actions “outrageous.”

Thousands of complaints came into the police department’s dispatch center blasting Payne and his strong-arm arrest. With this kind of outcry, the Salt Lake City district attorney launched a criminal investigation and the mayor and police chief apologized.

And finally, a month after the incident, Payne and another cop have been placed on administrative leave, but with pay.

“I stood my ground. I stood for what was right” Wubbels told CNN.  
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