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

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

The scene of a single-vehicle crash along Dolphin Drive in Nanoose Bay on Monday morning, April 19. (Mandy Moraes photo)
RCMP: No injuries reported in rollover crash in Nanoose Bay

Police say passengers indicate driver left the scene

The Town of Qualicum Beach plans to establish temporary shelters. (Town of Qualicum Beach illustration)
Town of Qualicum Beach seeks $1.25M grant to build temporary housing units

Aim is to move tenants in prior to the end of 2021

Mount Arrowsmith Teachers’ Association and its Nanaimo-Ladysmith counterpart seek stricter COVID-19 rules. (PQB News file photo)
Mount Arrowsmith teachers’ union asks health authority for stricter COVID-19 measures

Teachers ask for vaccine, more online learning, mask mandate for primary students

Dashwood Volunteer Fire Department emergency response vehicle. (PQB News file photo)
Dashwood fire department issues warning to residents to hold off on yard debris burning

Fire chief: ‘Hold off on burning until we get some rain’

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks at a press conference Monday, April 18. (B.C. Government image)
New COVID-19 cases tick down on the central Island

New cases held to single digits three days in a row

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read