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

PHSA says that in-unit guards would do more harm than good

In the wake of two patient attacks on nurses at a B.C. psychiatric hospital within 10 days, the B.C. Nurses Union is calling for safety officers to be assigned to each unit.

According to the union, one nurse was assaulted on Aug. 5 and another on Aug. 13, resulting in “severe facial lacerations” and a “severe head injury” while working at the Coquitlam Forensic Psychiatric Hospital, according to union president Christine Sorensen.

“Both nurses were providing care within the max security unit at the time,” said Sorensen.

While she acknowledged that “these patients do have psychiatric conditions” and are the “most clinically difficult,” Sorensen said that “no injuries should take place for both patients and staff.”

READ MORE: Bitten-off fingers, thrown excrement: BC prison guard assaults on the rise

READ MORE: Staff member allegedly assaulted by patient at Colony Farms

Sorensen said that the union has been calling for increased in-unit security for a long time, noting that attacks like these are “not unusual for this facility.”

But the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), which operates hospitals in B.C., said that they don’t believe having in-unit guards would help.

According to CEO of Complex Mental Health and Substance Use Connie Coniglio, in-unit guards can do more harm than good and lead to “more aggressive acts.”

“Our experiences in other jurisdiction is that it makes the patients more nervous, agitated and dangerous,” Coniglio said.

“Our focus is on how to promote healing for patients with severe and complex mental health issues. It’s a hospital, not a jail.”

Instead, nurses and other health care staff are trained in how to de-escalate violent situations.

In addition to mandated violence prevention training, staff are now being trained in a U.K.-style approach called “therapeutic and relational security.”

“They’re starting to implement it in Ontario,” Coniglio said.

“It is the next step in preventing and reducing violence in the environment.”

When it all does go south, Coniglio said, hospital operate on a Code White system.

By pressing a button, nurses can call for help.

“It brings all of the appropriate people to help: colleagues and security folks,” Coniglio said.

“People come immediately to the scene… from 30 seconds to one minute.”

But Sorensen said that some violence happens almost every day.

“Anecdotally, nurses report to us that they’re sworn at during every shift,” Sorenson said.

“They’re pinched or pushed or shoved, which is all inappropriate, and that happens every shift.”

Although neither the union nor the PHSA provided statistics, Coninglio said that assaults on nurses have decreased over the years.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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

(File image)
Vehicle collides with propane line causing explosion in Thornhill

Driver sustained severe burns, was taken to Lower Mainland in air ambulance

The plan to build a staircase to the Bench includes a channel to more easily transport bicycles up and down. (Photo courtesy City of Terrace)
Staircase to Bench subject of City grant application

Would connect lower Eby St. to upper Eby St.

The car was trapped, with its driver inside, in a ditch off Hirsch Creek Main near Onion Lake overnight Monday (Oct. 19). Oct. 20, 2020. Kitimat RCMP photo.
Man found after spending overnight stuck in car in a ditch near Onion Lake

Kitimat RCMP said the man was stuck there overnight for about 10 hours

Stikine provincial election candidates (clockwise from top left): Nathan Cullen, NDP; Darcy Repen, Rural BC Party; Rod Taylor, Christian Heritage; and Gordon Sebastian, BC Liberals. (Black Press Composite Photo)
FILE - Nathan Cullen speaks to media in Smithers, B.C., Friday, February 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
More calls come in for Cullen’s removal as NDP candidate

Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs demand Cullen’s removal. Ellis says, There’s no place in B.C. for racism

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP stock photo (Black Press)
Charges laid against Prince George man, 39, in drug trafficking probe

Tyler Aaron Gelowitz is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 18

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

Most Read