Kicked in the ribs. Harassed at vaccine sites. Health care workers are tired of "the new normal."

According to a Northeast Georgia Health System security team report, screams could be heard from inside a room at one of the system’s hospitals. A patient had a nurse pinned against a door, pressing her head into it. The patient had hurt himself at the same time, and blood spilled onto the floor.

Another time, a patient grabbed a nurse by her wrist and started kicking her in the ribs, the hospital system said. The hospital system said it dealt with violent encounters nearly twice a day in 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic overwhelmed hospitals.

Across Georgia, hospitals are raising the alarm on a startling increase in violent outbursts by patients against their staff.

While both verbal and physical abuse against health care workers has long plagued the profession, leadership attributes record levels of incidents to the devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic and the strain it has put on resources.