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

Nelson Leafs lose to Beaver Valley, will face Spokane in playoffs

Reid Wilson also finished the regular season third overall in scoring

Adapting to love along the Columbia River

One man starts a GoFundme to help his partner with health costs caused on the trip where they met

West Kootenay SPCA hopes you’ll have a heart for Cupid

Cat who tangled with a bobcat seeking a permanent home

Leafs, Nitehawks to decide division title Saturday

The regular season ends in Nelson with both teams tied on points

Nelson Nordic Ski Club fundraising for new groomer

The club’s current machine is beginning to break down

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Tyler Toffoli scores twice, Canucks crush Bruins 9-3

Stecher, Miller each add three points for Vancouver

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Eyes on police after Trudeau orders blockades torn down, injunctions enforced

The RCMP in B.C. have sent a letter to the traditional leaders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation

Most Read