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Healthcare workers call for increased protections after visiting nurse is killed by patient in Willimantic

<i>WFSB</i><br/>Nurses and lawmakers called for change after a visiting nurse was killed
Burnside, Tina
Nurses and lawmakers called for change after a visiting nurse was killed

By Eliza Krucynski, Olivia Kalentek, and Marcy Jones

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    WILLIMANTIC, Connecticut (WFSB) — Nurses and lawmakers called for change after a visiting nurse was killed, police said, by a patient in Willimantic over the weekend.

State leaders, nurses, and the unions planned to rally at the legislative office building at 2 p.m. on Wednesday

Several sources, including Brooklyn’s First Selectman, identified the nurse as Joyce Grayson.

Grayson responded to a call at a transitional house on Chapman Street Saturday. The house was described as a place for registered sex offenders to transition back into society.

The call should have only lasted 8 minutes, but police said they were called around 2 p.m. after her family hadn’t heard from her for hours.

Police later found her dead in the basement of that home. Police said a suspect, 38-year-old Michael Reese, fled from the area shortly after she was found.

Reese is a convicted sex offender, they said. He was detained on the scene. He was charged with probation violation, possession of drugs paraphernalia, and larceny.

While he hasn’t been officially charged with her murder yet, police said he is considered a suspect.

Grayson was a visiting nurse who worked for the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services for quite some time. She was also a foster parent to 35 kids from 2002-2021.

Her death caused local lawmakers to push for more protections for visiting nurses.

“This is a wakeup call for the entire state to say ‘hey, we can do far better, we can protect each and every one,]” said Sen. Saud Anwar, a Democrat who represents Connecticut’s 3rd District.

Lawmakers recently passed a law to protect healthcare workers in hospitals after they saw an uptick in violence. Now, Anwar said he is looking into what can be done to protect visiting nurses.

“The nurses and the staff that go to a patient’s home to provide them care, at times they are just all alone in that environment,” Anwar said.

Channel 3 has been working to learn if Grayson was at the transition home alone or with someone else.

Anwar said he hopes to create a way for visiting nurses to know what they’re walking into.

“Do they need more than one person to be at the facility? Do they need a support system? Do they need a check in advance what the existing laws are what are the systems? What can we do to make sure that each and every nurse in the state of Connecticut is protected,” Anwar said.

“Our hearts and sincere condolences are with the family, friends, colleagues, neighbors and the DCF staff who loved and worked with Joyce Grayson, a devoted and compassionate foster and adoptive parent of almost two decades, for their loss.

From 2002-2021, the Grayson family provided love and care to 35 children. The children ranged in ages from infants to teens, children with multiple medically complex needs and a handful of sibling groups.

They even received the Foster Parent of the Year award in 2017.

The Grayson’s exemplified what it meant to be Foster Parents and the Willimantic Office was lucky to have them as part of the team.

Joyce’s warmth, kindness and compassion will be missed by everyone who knew her and her legacy will live on in the countless lives of children she touched.”

Commissioner Vannessa Dorantes, Department of Children and Families

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