Buffalo News, November 26, 1998

November 21, 2023 — November 24 marks 25 years since Judith “Judi” Scanlon, a PEF member and healthcare professional from Buffalo, was killed by a patient while conducting a home visit just two days before Thanksgiving in 1998.  

Scanlon was a mental health intensive case manager. The patient was convicted of second-degree murder, and the tragedy shined a spotlight on the safety of healthcare workers.   

A quarter century later, PEF and other advocacy groups representing healthcare workers are still calling for an end to workplace violence.  

The gaps in New York State’s treatment of mental health and the safety of healthcare workers were made apparent by Scanlon’s passing. PEF immediately began advocating for increased safety around community mental health workers and legislation to enforce critical safety measures.  

PEF called for new policies, equipment, and training to protect healthcare workers and local communities. Kelly Scanlon, Judi’s daughter, urged state lawmakers to act to prevent further tragedies.   

PEF introduced “The Judi Scanlon Bill” in 2006. It would have required an employee from the Office of Mental Health to accompany all State health care workers during home visits. Kelly Scanlon joined PEF at a rally supporting the bill in Buffalo on July 24, 2006. Unfortunately, the bill was vetoed by New York Governor George Pataki.  

However, that same year the Workplace Violence Prevention Bill, which requires public employers with more than 20 employees to assess risk and develop action plans to prevent potential violence, passed with the help of PEF’s advocacy.  

Today, two-and-a-half decades later, PEF continues to advocate on behalf of healthcare workers who are too often put at risk due to short staffing and decades of disinvestment at stage agencies. This year, PEF lobbied legislators to improve the working conditions for social workers.   

On this anniversary, PEF remembers Judi Scanlon and remains committed to preventing tragedies at the workplace. PEF Region 1 has honored Scanlon every year since her passing by offering scholarships to dependents of PEF members in Western New York who are pursuing higher education.   

The scholarship carries Judi Scanlon’s work and legacy into the future and gives the children of PEF members support while they are enrolled in nursing, social work or other healthcare-related programs. 

“We have raised tens of thousands of dollars since the start of the Region 1 Judi Scanlon Scholarship fund,” said Region 1 coordinator Michele Iorfida. Iorfida said that the region has raised $10,000 in scholarship money since 2018 alone, when she became regional coordinator. 

Members who wish to get more involved in local health and safety issues in their regions should contact