A nurse who suffered a brain contusion and broken nose after being attacked in a Moncton hospital came face-to-face Tuesday with the man accused of doing it.

A 69-year-old man from Acadieville is charged with one count of assault causing bodily harm.

The case is top of mind for nurses meeting in Fredericton for their national convention.

Natasha Poirier left the Moncton courthouse quickly on Tuesday.

It’s been three months since the she says she was attacked during a shift at the Georges-Dumont Hospital.

Outside court, Poirier's mother says her daughter told her, her hair was pulled out, she had been pushed against a wall, and choked, leaving her with serious injuries.

“It's going to take quite a while for her to be able to survive this difficult situation,” said Norma Melanson, Poirier's mother.

Tuesday, 69-year-old Bruce Randolph (Randy) Van Horlick appeared in court to be formally charged.

Declining a request for an interview, Van Horlick said he is not the villain he's been made out to be.

“To have to stand here to say that violence isn't part of our job, the mood is a little bit dim and gloomy,” said Paula Doucet, the president of the New Brunswick Nurses Union. “However the solidarity amongst nurses across this province is very strong."

Nurses from all over New Brunswick came to the Moncton courthouse to support  Poirier.

In Fredericton, nurses from across the country who gathered for their national convention also shared their own stories.

“Imagine being stabbed multiple times with a pen while at work,” said Debbie Forward, who is with the Registered Nurses' Union Newfoundland and Labrador.“This happened to one of our members.”

Janet Hazelton of the Nova Scotia Nurses Union says five NSNU members charged patients with assault last year.

Mona O'Shea, Prince Edward Island Nurses Union said a nurse on P.E.I. had to deal with a patient who had a shotgun in the chair next to them.

“She attempted to make an excuse saying she had to leave to get something in her car but the client became very agitated and yelled at her to do her job,” said O’Shea.

National president, Linda Silas, says Natasha Poirier’s story hits close to home.

“That's my hospital,” Silas said. “That's where I work and where I still have a job, and it was probably the tipping point because as much as Natasha's story is scary and sad, there were worse stories than that across Canada.”

Silas says things need to change, and it starts at the very top:

“That's the role of the federal government, is changing the criminal act to make it a criminal assault if you attack a healthcare worker,” Silas said.“If you hit a nurse, you go to jail!”

The maximum penalty for assault causing bodily harm is 10 years.

The accused will be back in court on July 16. Van Horlick is expected to make a plea at that time.

The national nurses convention being held in Fredericton continues all week.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Brown.