Mayor, Police Chief respond to footage of nurse arrest

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) - Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and Police Chief Mike Brown are responding after footage showing a nurse in the Burn Unit of the University of Utah was arrested. She says she was arrested for following the hospital's policy on refusing to draw blood from an unconscious patient.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill has ordered a criminal investigation into her arrest. Two Salt Lake City Police Department employees are now on administrative leave as a result of the investigation. 

Mayor Jackie Biskupski:

“Like many of you, I watched the video of police officers interacting with University of Utah Medical Center nurse Alex Wubbles for the first time through the media late yesterday. What I saw is completely unacceptable to the values of my Administration and of the values of the Salt Lake City Police Department. I extend a personal apology to Ms. Wubbles for what she has been through for simply doing her job.

There is currently an Internal Affairs investigation examining the actions, and the Civilian Review Board is conducting a parallel investigation. I have reiterated to Chief Brown that I expect the highest level of professionalism and integrity from his team. I have also instructed Chief Brown to conduct a thorough review of all policies and trainings to ensure respect for all individuals, in all situations. Following the incident Salt Lake City Police Department command met with hospital administration. We immediately changed policies that may have been a factor in this encounter, and the officer’s duties have been modified.

I take these incidences very seriously. Since I took office, I have been working with Salt Lake City Police Department to increase our use of de-escalation techniques and we have had great success, and this incident is a troubling set back to those efforts. No medical professional in Salt Lake City should be hindered from performing their duties, and certainly not be fearful of the police officers they so often partner with to save lives.”

 

Chief Mike Brown:

“I was alarmed by what I saw in the video with our officer and Ms. Wubbles. I am sad at the rift this has caused between law-enforcement and the nurses we work so closely with. I want to be clear, we take this very seriously. Immediate steps were taken and within 12 hours, body cam footage was reviewed and an internal affairs investigation started. We've looked at the actions that took place, the policies that could have prevented it, and the training that must be done. Within 24 hours of this incident, Salt Lake City Police Department took steps to ensure this will never happen again. We met with hospital CEO and COO, Nursing Management Team, their legal representation team, and University of Utah Chief Brophy. 

Most notable of all these conversations were that we apologized for the incident and promised to find a solution. Additionally, our policy management team continues to work closely with the hospital staff on improved policies and training. 

To date, we have suspended the officer from the blood draw program. We have already replaced our blood draw policy with a new policy. All remaining officers on the blood draw program have reviewed, and are operating under the new policy and protocol.

It is my sincere desire to get back to a very cooperative, respectful, and friendly relationship with our “brothers and sisters in white” we work so closely with. Salt Lake City Police Officers have a very soft spot in our hearts for all medical professionals. We know that if we are ever hurt in the line of duty, it is their caring hands that will perhaps save our lives one day. 

I believe we can learn from mistakes and from building strong relationships with everyone we work with and serve. By doing that we become a stronger police department.” 


The nurse seen in the video, Alex Wubbles  sent a statement to the media:

This morning, I received a call from the Mayor of Salt Lake City and the Chief of Police.  They both offered me personal apologies, which I felt were sincere.  I have accepted those apologies, and I look forward to working with both of them to help promote further civil dialogue and education.  The common goal of all public service professionals should be to provide the best care to our fellow citizens.

The outpouring of support has been beyond what I could have imagined.  Since the incident, the City has taken this matter seriously, and I believe that positive change will occur.

 

The University of Utah Hospital also responded to the arrest:

Dear Colleagues:

Many of you have read the news stories and seen the body camera video of an interaction in July between Salt Lake City Police and one of our nurses, Alex Wubbels. As a result of this event we feel it is important to address this issue with staff and faculty, express our support for Nurse Wubbels and reaffirm our commitment to safety and privacy of our patients.

During a stressful situation Nurse Wubbels chose to focus first and foremost on the care and well-being of her patient. She followed hospital procedures and protocols in this matter and was acting in her patient's best interest. Both nursing and hospital administration extend our full support to Nurse Wubbels and express our appreciation for her commitment to put a patient's interests ahead of her own.

It is important to note that during this incident, nursing and hospital administration were present and actively working to find a solution ultimately leading to the release of Nurse Wubbels. Within hours of the incident taking place, nursing and hospital administration also called a meeting with our law enforcement partners to express our concern and seek better solutions for future instances. Since the event took place, we have continued to work with local law enforcement to create a clear policy that, during similar instances, allows for open communication with hospital administrators while protecting our colleagues who directly care for patients.

In the event that law enforcement requests or requires a blood sample from a patient, they should immediately be directed to the House Supervisor on duty at that time, who will then work to find a sensible solution. With this update in policy, anyone who cares for patients should never worry about making decisions at a moment's notice other than those that affect the direct care of their patients.

Thank you for your continued work and dedication to our patients. We express our appreciation to you and hope you feel free to ask any questions that need to be addressed.

Sincerely,

Gordon Crabtree
Chief Executive Officer – University Hospital

Dan Lundergan

Chief Operating Officer – University Hospital

Margaret Pearce
Chief Nursing Officer – University Hospital

 


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