BC Nurses Union is speaking out after Terrace nurses witnessed an agitated patient beat and bite a female security guard at Mills Memorial Hospital. (Natalia Balcerzak/Terrace Standard)

BC Nurses Union is speaking out after Terrace nurses witnessed an agitated patient beat and bite a female security guard at Mills Memorial Hospital. (Natalia Balcerzak/Terrace Standard)

Security guard bitten, punched by patient at Terrace hospital

Violent incident one of many in Northwest B.C., nurses union says

The BC Nurses Union (BCNU) is calling for more protection of hospital staff following the assault of a female security guard at Mills Memorial Hospital.

Christine Sorensen, president of BCNU, confirmed that nurses at the Terrace hospital witnessed an agitated patient beat and bite a female security guard two weeks ago and that it is just one more example of the violence that nurses and hospital staff face, especially at small hospitals in rural Northwest B.C.

One Northern Health nurse, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said violence against hospital staff is a widespread issue that affects employees from Haida Gwaii to Prince George and it is time the public was made aware.

“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.”

A Code White, a coordinated response to a potentially out-of-control or violent person, was called when a patient in the psychological unit of the hospital began acting out toward staff at Mills Memorial.

READ MORE: Allegedly intoxicated man arrested after 3 paramedics attacked at Kamloops hospital

In response to the Code White, a security guard intervened but the situation escalated violently. The guard is still recovering and has not yet reported back to work, the nurse said.

“It’s extremely traumatic physically but [there is] also psychological trauma, so I would not be surprised if [the female security guard] has not returned to work,” Sorensen said.

Prince George, Terrace and Quesnel are the only hospitals in Northwest B.C. with security because they were identified by BCNU and the province as being the most at-risk hospitals due to their psychological units.

However, Sorensen said all hospitals face issues of violence on a daily basis and they do not have adequate protection.

“One nurse everyday [across the province] is reported with serious injury related to violence,” Sorensen said, referring to WCB statistics compiled in 2015.

The situation is intensified for smaller hospitals in rural cities because they deal with more complex patients with less support, leaving nursing staff in greater danger, Sorensen added.

The number of incidents of violence against nurses and staff have been increasing, which Sorensen attributes to an aging population, a lack of services and a shortage of nurses which translates into longer wait times and increased patient agitation.

Northern Health spokesperson Eryn Collins wrote in an email to Black Press, 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 violence prevention program to improve workplace security. This includes violence 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 a standardized Code White response protocols that are used to defuse potentially dangerous situations and help protect staff, patients and bystanders,” Collins wrote.

Sites without any contracted, on-site security services do have security measures in place, from security cameras and access restrictions at appropriate times, to response from local RCMP when their presence is required, Collins said.

READ MORE: 2 nurses attacked at B.C. psych hospital, union calls for in-unit security

However, Sorensen said, even sites with security guards are not well-equipped to deal with out-of-control patients because they are not trained in conflict resolution or therapeutic relationship skills. Nurses do receive this training, however, with shortages of staff, it is becoming increasingly difficult to handle.

“They went into nursing for medical care not conflict resolution,” Sorensen said.

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

Northern Health is responsible for hiring the security company who protects hospital staff under their jurisdiction.

Sorensen said some nurses, who suffer violence, may have difficulty accessing long-term leave for medical disability due to a lack of resources and that nurses who witness violence may also have trouble finding a trained individuals to help them resolve their PTSD.

However, Collins said psychological supports and resources for nurses who witnessed the assault are available 24/7 to work with them and their families, and physicians who are experiencing stressors, to assist with coping after a workplace incident.

“Northern Health also promotes and encourages staff to access the available supports and services through the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP),” she said.

Although Sorensen said she would like to see trained safety officers in all Northwest B.C. hospitals 24/7 to assist with difficult patients.

“We shouldn’t be focusing on how much it costs but on patient care,” she said.


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

Just Posted

President of the Tahltan Central Government, Chad Norman Day, surveys Tahltan territory by helicopter in this July 2019 handout photo. The Tahltan Nation and the British Columbia government have struck what officials say is a historic agreement for shared decision-making for the nation’s territory in northwestern B.C., a hot spot for mineral exploration. Day says the deal shows they are “getting closer and closer to a true nation-to-nation relationship.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Tahltan Central Government
Tahltan Nation, B.C. government sign agreement for shared decision-making

Deal commits the province and the northwest B.C. nation to developing a land-use plan

Hours of practice each day on the part of dancer Braya Kluss keeps her at a high performance level, someting reflected in the competitions she has won. (Submitted Photo)
Remote Tahltan community faces uncertainty with no ‘real’ timeline on Telegraph Creek Road

Provincial transportation ministry says the timeline for road repairs is ‘weather dependent’

Shown is a T-6 Harvard flown by Bud Granley, who has performed at the Vanderhoof Airshow “more times than any other performer,” said Anne Stevens. (Anne Stevens - Vanderhoof International Airshow Society)
Vanderhoof International Airshow a no-go for 2021

Airport open day planned for September

Five rehabilitated grizzly bears were released this month into the Bella Coola area. The Northern Lights Wildlife Society will also be delivering 36 black bears to areas across the province where they were previously found. “They’re ready to go and they’re already trying to get out,” says Angelika Langen. “We feel good when we can make that possible and they don’t have to stay behind fences for the rest of their lives.” (Northern Lights Wildlife Society Facebook photo)
The train station in Smithers pulls into view in a 1959 video of a train trip from Vernon to Prince Rupert. (Screen shot)
VIDEO: Rare footage of Smithers in 1959 featured in train tour video

8mm film converted to video shows Vernon to Prince Rupert by train and Rupert to Vancouver by ship

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

Most Read