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

Missing ‘Where is my Dad?’ sign returned in Port Alberni

Good Samaritan finds Lisa Petterson’s stolen sign, returns it to Merville woman

BIZ BEAT: Port Alberni businesses continue to give back to the community

See what businesses are starting up, moving and renovating

Daytripping: From Port Alberni to Ucluelet, visit the ‘wild west’

Whether you’re looking to stroll, sip, sup or stay, Ucluelet has something for you

Port Alberni Food Hub opens to seafood processors

Four ‘anchor’ tenants welcomed

Port Alberni City Council mulls request to buy big screen for AV Multiplex

$200K request comes on heels of RFP for renaming rights to AV Multiplex

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

Children suffer swollen eyes, burns while playing at Lower Mainland spray park

Mission RCMP are investigating incident that injured several children

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

Man arrested for allegedly pushing unsuspecting seniors, jumping on cars at Parksville mall

Cops arrest man after ‘aggressive incident’ at Wembley Mall in Parksville

Beloved Island woman dies at 106

Dorothy Adair adored by the many people she met in Chemainus in two short years

Most Read