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.

Just Posted

Suspected spill kills hundreds of crayfish, coho in Langley river

A fish kill in the Nicomekl has a biologist concerned for the health of the local ecosystem.

Rams harvest sweet victory in win over Huskers

The Chilliwack team found itself pushed back again and again.

WATCH: Cops for Cancer bring message of hope to Langley school

Young cancer survivors are traveling with the fundraising bike ride.

Langley venue of glass provides bright stage for charity art show

West Fine Arts Show runs Friday to Sunday at South Langley’s Glass House Estate Winery.

Driver of pickup stolen from Langley crashes into car in Abbotsford

No serious injuries in collision on Monday night

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

Aldergrove soccer forward enjoys scoring spree

UFV Cascades’ Jhaj named Canada West second star of the week

B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year

There were 1,036 overdose deaths in the first three months of the year, with 94 per cent accidental

B.C. candidate moves from hospice care to council race

He beat terminal cancer twice and entered hospice when he decided to run for council.

Canadian tobacco exec pushes back against vaping health concerns

A warning from Interior Health about the unknown health risks of vaping is getting a partial rebuke

New ‘meowyoral’ race featuring felines announced by B.C. animal shelter

Organizers hope the cat election will generate attention for shelter and local municipal election

Ministry of Agriculture commits $300,000 to help B.C. farmers obtain land

B.C. Land Matching Program supports access to affordable farmland for young farmers

Lower Mainland city calls for slower trains near popular beach

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner said ‘it’s the least we can do’

Most Read