Worker burned in break room attack at Hackensack, NJ hospital
UPDATE: 8 p.m.: A 31-year-old contract nurse from West Deptford was wanted for attempted murder, among other charges, stemming from the attack, prosecutors announced.
HACKENSACK — A hospital worker was attacked in a break room at Hackensack University Medical Center, suffering burns and a serious cut before the attacker drove off early Monday.
The break room assault around 5 a.m. involved a male contract nurse, also known as a travel nurse, setting a woman on fire, as first reported by CBS New York and confirmed to New Jersey 101.5 by a hospital spokesperson, who said there were no witnesses to the incident.
The nurse had been vetted by his agency, including state and county background checks, drug screening and a license review and had been working in Hackensack since mid-November.
The female employee, whose identity was not disclosed, suffered third-degree burns to her upper body and hands as well as a cut to her head that required stitches, according to Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella.
She was treated in the emergency room before being taken to another medical facility for additional care, he continued.
The hospital issued this statement:
"Violence will not be tolerated in our network. Our doctors, nurses and teams are true heroes and deserve our respect. The safety of our patients and our team members is Hackensack Meridian Health’s highest priority."
Musella said the Hackensack Police Department was assisting in the investigation.
Additional security had been stationed throughout the Hackensack campus, the hospital spokesperson added.
No potential motive for the attack was shared as of Monday afternoon.
An independent nurse contractor is a health care professional who works on a contract basis, rather than being employed full time at one place and typically travels to different locations to support staff during shortages.
The demand for such workers has spiked due to the continued toll of the COVID pandemic.