Anti-violence measures increase at four hospitals

Extra security, alarms, training at Abbotsford hospital, psychiatric facilities in Port Coquitlam, Kamloops and Victoria

Injuries to a nurse attacked without warning at Abbotsford Regional Hospital emergency in March.

The B.C. health ministry is adding an extra $2 million to improve security at four facilities identified as having the highest risk for violence.

Extra staff, new alarms and violence prevention training will be among strategies for Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Port Coquitlam, Hillside Centre in Kamloops, Seven Oaks Tertiary Mental Health in Victoria and Abbotsford Regional Hospital.

Health Minister Terry Lake announced the extra funding Thursday with B.C. Nurses’ Union president Gayle Duteil. Eight more health facilities have been identified as priorities for additional help, and more are expected to be identified this fall, Lake said.

Duteil said increased staffing around the clock at Hillside psychiatric hospital mean that nurses will no longer have to work alone. She said violence is a risk for all health care facilities in the province, including residential care.

“Health care workers as a whole receive the highest number of WorkSafeBC injury claims for violence-related injuries across this province,” Duteil said. “They actually have more injuries than police officers related to violence.”

Duteil said a nurse at the Abbotsford emergency room has not returned to work after an assault in March left him with stitches to his face. Fraser Health reported that there were three security guards on duty at the time who responded immediately to what police described as a sudden, unprovoked attack by a 23-year-old man.

Lake said the ministry committed $37 million to violence education in 2011. Since then the annual total of “Code White”  violence incidents has declined from 4,300 a year to 3,700.