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Healthcare workers breathe sigh of relief as bill to keep guns out of Kansas hospitals passes into law

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Leaders at the state's healthcare facilities are calling it a big win.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback allowed a bill, which bans guns at public hospitals, to pass into law. That includes most of the metro's major Kansas-based facilities -- including the University of Kansas Health System. Conceal-carry laws, as well as open-carry laws, won't apply to hospitals.

The bill becomes law after Gov. Brownback refused to veto it, meaning gun owners can't bring their firearms into hospitals. Workers from Kansas hospitals, including the two FOX 4 News spoke with on Thursday, say they're breathing a sigh of relief.

"For the patients, I think this is the best thing that could have happened," Morteza Rabii, president of the Kansas University Nurse's Association, told FOX 4 News.

Rabii works as a nurse at the University of Kansas Health System, and represents his fellow workers in collective bargaining, leading around 1,400 nurses from that hospital. Rabii says he's worried about the prospect of legal guns appearing in hospitals has been a fearful notion for a long time.

"(Patients) are there to heal. The last thing they need is to be looking over their shoulders at a very stressful time," Rabii said.

Rabii says he and other nurses have kept an eye on Topeka, as Gov. Brownback moved in favor of keeping guns out of public hospitals across the Sunflower State. Rabii says he's heard of an incident where a local hospital visitor brought a gun.

"Guns have been brought into emergency rooms, etc. Someone was sent in to finish the job, essentially," Rabii said.

It's violence like that, according to Rabii, that he hopes the new law will prevent. The Kansas Statehouse had already issued their support for the bill, too.

"I do see it all. I'm in the middle of all of it," Ashley Morrell, who works as a nurse at another hospital in the metro, said.

Sometimes, Morrell said, she sees patients receive bad news about their health, and she wonders how they'd react if they had a gun by their side.

"There's been so many shootings the past couple of years in the most public, random places. I just think adding one more outlet to that just kind of made me nervous," Morrell said.

The new law will also prohibit guns in mental hospitals and nursing homes. Bob Page, president of the University of Kansas Health System, issued a statement on Thursday, voicing his support for Gov. Brownback's decision.