A contracted nurse at a New Jersey hospital allegedly set another staffer on fire inside a break room before fleeing the scene on Monday morning, according to a statement from the hospital network.
The incident took place at Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC) early on Monday morning when the suspect, a male contracted nurse, entered the room and allegedly attacked a female worker.
“The team member was in a break room when the contracted agency nurse entered and allegedly set the team member on fire. There were no witnesses to the incident and police have no motive for the attack at this time,” Mary McGeever, a public relations manager for HUMC, told Newsweek.
The female staffer has since been taken to a nearby medical facility to be treated for her injuries. Reports have so far indicated that the weapon used was a culinary torch, according to NBC New York. The news outlet added that the woman is in critical, but stable condition, and appears to be suffering from severe burns to her face and upper body.
Following the attack, the male suspect exited the hospital and fled the scene by car, sparking an active police investigation. Police have not yet identified either the suspect or victim in media reports.
McGeever told Newsweek that the suspect had been working as a contracted nurse with the hospital since mid-November. Nurses are typically contracted to join hospitals to provide additional help during staffing shortages before traveling to other locations, she added.
“A complete and full compliance audit was conducted by the vendor that provides contracted agency staff to the network, including state and county background checks, drug screening and license review, which is standard practice at hospitals throughout the nation,” she said in a statement to Newsweek.
“As a result of this complete and full compliance, this contracted agency nurse was cleared to work,” the statement continued.
It is unclear what agency the contracted nurse worked for, or what the position of the female staffer was. McGeever said the hospital is now cooperating with the Hackensack Police Department and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office during the ongoing investigation.
Additional security has since been set up around the hospital while police continue their investigation.
“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,” McGeever added.