Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace. (Natalia Balcerzak/Terrace Standard)

Security guard bitten, punched by patient at Terrace hospital

Violent incident is one of many in northwest B.C., nurses’ union says

The BC Nurses Union is calling for more protection of hospital staff following the assault of a female security guard at a hospital in Terrace.

Nurses at Mills Memorial Hospital witnessed an agitated patient beat and bite a female security guard two weeks ago, union president Christine Sorensen confirmed. She said it’s another example of the violence that nurses and hospital staff face, especially at small hospitals in rural B.C.

“In reality, these nurses are afraid to go to work,” Sorensen said. “It’s a very sad state of affairs for health care and the government needs to address it.”

READ MORE: Allegedly intoxicated man arrested after paramedics attacked at Kamloops hospital

A Code White, which is a coordinated response to a potentially out-of-control or violent person, was called when a patient in the psychiatric unit began acting out toward staff.

One nurse, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Black Press Media that a security guard intervened, but the situation escalated, and the patient attacked. The guard is still recovering and is not yet back to work, the nurse said.

Violence against hospital staff is a widespread issue from Haida Gwaii to Prince George, the nurse said, adding that it’s time the public was made aware.

Prince George, Terrace and Quesnel are the only hospitals in the north with security. They were identified by the nurses’ union and provincial government as the most at-risk because of their psychiatric units.

Sorensen said all hospitals face issues of violence on a daily basis and do not have adequate protection, but the situation is intensified at smaller hospitals in rural communities because they deal with more complex patients with less support.

The number of violent incidents against nurses and staff have been increasing, which Sorensen attributes to an aging population, a lack of services, and a shortage of nurses.

In an email, Northern Health spokesperson Eryn Collins said while the health authority cannot comment on specific incidents involving patients or staff out of privacy concerns, they are “committed to strengthening a culture of safety and reducing the potential for workplace violence.”

Collins said all Northern Health locations assess the potential for violence in the workplace and implement a prevention program. This includes risk assessments, incident reporting and investigation, various policies and guidelines, a provincial violence prevention curriculum, and education on occupational health and safety for supervisors and managers.

“We also have standardized Code White response protocols that are used to defuse potentially dangerous situations and help protect staff, patients and bystanders,” Collins said.

Sites without any contracted, on-site security services do have security measures in place, such as cameras and access restrictions at certain times, she added.

READ MORE: Two nurses attacked at B.C. psych hospital, union calls for in-unit security

Sorensen said that sometimes isn’t enough because security staff are not trained in conflict resolution or therapeutic relationship skills. Nurses are, she said, and with staff shortages, it is becoming increasingly difficult to handle.

Vancouver Island Health Authority and the Provincial Health Services Authority have hired trained safety officers for one-on-one assistance for potentially violent patients, but Northern Health has yet to do so.


Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
Jenna Cocullo 
Send Jenna email
Like the The Northern View on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter


 


brittany@terracestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Delta council approves plan to reopen city facilities

Next phase of plan includes outdoor pools, summer day camps, outdoor fitness programs

Surrey student earns TD Community Leadership scholarship

Harjot Bal recognized for his One Blood For Life Foundation

‘Pods’ set up at Surrey homeless centre

Temporary shelter set up in April to help stop the spread of COVID-19

Suspect sought in alleged indecent act in South Surrey

Police say incident occurred near 13 Avenue and 131 Street

New Serpentine rail bridge completed in Cloverdale-Sullivan

$3 million crossing replacement marks first of 13 flood-mitigation projects

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Importance of accurate, ethical reporting more critical than ever

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

IHIT names homicide victim found in the Fraser Canyon this week

Police asking for tips into the suspicious death of 29-year-old Alicia Berg

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

Most Read