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Fill-in nurses report assault



Published: Mon, July 2, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Lawyers are looking into the rough treatment of those arrested, the nursing union president said.

YOUNGSTOWN -- Two replacement nurses who said they were assaulted as they drove to work past pickets at Forum Health Northside Medical Center took pictures of the event, as did hospital security staff.

The Sunday evening encounter resulted in the arrest of a 51-year-old Girard man who works at Northside and Richard Barron, 35, of Salem, whose employment is not listed on a police report. Barron was to be arraigned today in municipal court on charges of assault and criminal damaging.

The Girard man was booked at the jail, but city Prosecutor Dionne Almasy decided today against filing charges of assault and criminal damaging against him.

Bonnie Lambert, president of the Youngstown General Duty Nurses Association, said Barron is a supporter of the strikers and the other person was a striking nurse.

The victims, employed by U.S. Nursing, based in Denver, told police that as they entered Children's Drive, near Gypsy Lane, around 6:20 p.m., several pickets approached their car.

Barron is accused of hitting the car with his picket sign, then striking the hood with his right hand.

Passenger hit: As the car with the replacement nurses moved forward, Barron reached in and hit the passenger in the face, the victims said. The man, who tried to flee, was caught and forced to the ground by a city police officer and hospital security guard.

Police said the Girard man squirted something from a plastic water bottle at the driver. The bottle has been held as evidence.

While en route to the county jail, Barron complained of chest pains and was taken to St. Elizabeth Health Center instead. He was issued a court summons.

Lawyers for the nurses union are looking into the arrests and the treatment of those arrested, Lambert said.

She said both of those arrested were held face-down on the ground and handled roughly by security guards hired by Forum.

"There was no need for that. They didn't deserve that," she said.

Lambert said that she didn't know why they were arrested but that she didn't think anyone was involved in any violence.

Doubts violence: "As far as I know, they weren't doing anything," she said.

Evonne Woloshyn, a Forum spokeswoman, said hospital officials think everything was handled appropriately. A security guard assisted in stopping one of the men who was running away, but the arrest was handled by Youngstown police, she said.

The strikers and other supporters at the rally were simply walking around the hospital, marking the two-month anniversary of the start of the strike, Lambert said. They also had a picnic.

"We weren't throwing stones. We didn't have baseball bats. We had children with us," she said.

Lambert and Woloshyn said they weren't sure when negotiations will resume.

N. Kristopher Hoce, Forum chief executive and president, called for round-the-clock talks last week, saying interruptions have caused the two sides to lose momentum.

Lambert said union officials will attend round-the-clock talks if Hoce meant what he said. He knew, however, that she was going to be out of town last week at a previously scheduled nursing convention, she said.

Overtime issue: Hoce said last week that the union has rejected the hospital's plan to "virtually eliminate" mandatory overtime, the major sticking point in negotiations.

Lambert said, however, that mandatory overtime remains part of Forum's plan but wasn't included in information given to the press last week.




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