The family of a security guard badly beaten at Waikato Hospital last month say she owes her life to another quick-thinking guard who broke protocol to help her.
She has spent two weeks recovering from the serious injuries in hospital and will be off work for at least three months.
The 47-year-old security guard was found lifeless and lying in a pool of blood after being attacked by a patient holding an oxygen cylinder in the early hours of May 15.
The woman guard was the first to respond to an urgent call that there was a self-harm incident on ward 8.
"Mum was told there was a (person threatening to self-harm) going up the stairwell in the Menzies Building. And it wasn't that - it was something violent."
Harney believes the person had already injured a nurse looking after him on the ward below before fleeing upstairs through the fire escape.
The male patient had broken into the ward and assaulted three nurses before grabbing an oxygen cylinder and attacking his mother. The nurses were later treated at ED for minor injuries before being discharged.
When their mum arrived she saw a man breaking a computer and smashing up the ward, before making a beeline for her, the guard's son Carl Harney told the Herald.
"He saw mum standing there with a big yellow jacket on and mum was just stuck in a corner."
She tried to grab a chair in self defence, but it was a three-bench chair and she couldn't lift it. Instead she lifted her arms up to try cover her face.
The man then struck her over the head with the oxygen cylinder.
His mother's memory was pretty hazy after that.
Her daughter Tajuana Eltringham said another guard working at the Henry Bennett Centre heard the commotion on the radio and raced to help her, despite breaking the rules. HBC guards are not supposed to leave their posts to help guards in the main building.
But Eltringham was grateful he did.
"He saved her life."
The security guard hauled the patient off their mum while other doctors and nurses arrived.
"By then mum's head had pretty much fallen apart. There was blood everywhere." Eltringham said.
Her children didn't realise how badly injured their mum was until they called her mobile at 7am that morning and were told by another guard that she was in the High Dependency Unit.
"I burst into tears and walked out, it was a massive shock seeing my mum like that.
"My mum was severely bruised, swollen, she was almost unrecognisable. It was really hard to see."
Eltringham said it was extremely upsetting seeing their mother battered and bruised, and she struggled with what to tell her younger siblings, aged 7 and 9.
Their mum required two surgeries after suffering a broken wrist, torn ligaments in her other arm and multiple facial fractures.
Their mother was only discharged from Waikato Hospital on Saturday and will be off work for at least three months.
"She's got no independence at the moment. She can't do anything ... She struggles to even make a coffee," Harney said.
She can't drive or work and has so little strength in her arms that she accidentally locked herself in the bathroom at the weekend and needed help opening the door.
The guard's family are speaking out on their mother's behalf because they say she can't because she and other security guards have been muzzled by their employer, Allied Security.
Her family said it was not the first time guards felt unsafe while at work and called on Allied and Waikato DHB to have better safety measures in place such as making guards respond to incidents in pairs and more training. They believed better communication may have also prevented the incident.
"There are a lot of the guards, not just my mum, who say they're not safe. That guy shouldn't have been on that ward," Harney said.
Their mother had worked at Waikato Hospital for two years and loved her job and the people she worked with.
The family's criticism lay with the upper management of Allied Security and Waikato DHB, and said staff were overworked and underpaid.
E tū senior organiser Iriaka Rauhihi said Allied Security's media ban meant guards could not speak out about important health and safety issues because they risked losing their jobs.
"They should have the right to voice their legitimate concerns about this, but they don't."
A 35-year-old man has been charged in relation to the incident.
Allied Security has been approached for comment.
In a statement, Waikato DHB executive director facilities and business Chris Cardwell said the attack was "very concerning and is under investigation to see whether anything could have been done differently".
"Waikato DHB is committed to providing a safe environment for its staff and contractors, no one should have to face this kind of physical attack at work and we are very concerned that this happened in our hospital.
"Our thoughts are with the guard and her family as she recovers from her injuries."