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Brockville hospital ordered to better protect nurses handling violent patients

By COS staff

The Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) has issued an interim order to heighten security for staff at the Brockville Hospital Mental Health Centre. Trained security guards will escort nurses when they provide care to and interact with a violent patient.

"It is of paramount importance to ensure security guards are trained properly in how to safely restrain a patient and to effectively handle violent situations to better protect both patients and workers," said the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA).

Nurses at the Brockville unit raised concerns regarding the need for additional supports and a new physical infrastructure to reduce the risk of harm, following an incident on Oct. 10 where a nurse was stabbed in the head and neck by a violent patient. The attack just narrowly missed an artery that could have caused the nurse serious injury and even her life.

"Over the past four years, the acuity of patients on this particular unit has increased. The mental health illnesses are more complex and require more than one-to-one observation, and certainly this has meant an increase in the potential for violent attacks by patients against our members," said ONA president Linda Haslam-Stroud.

ONA, which represents 60,000 nurses, is also calling on the Ontario government to initiate a province-wide health sector strategy to deal with workplace violence. ONA members have reported 1,500 documented attacks on workers this year alone at two large Ontario hospitals.

"We receive reports of violent incidents weekly from our members from many health-care facilities across the province. Enough is enough," said Haslam-Stroud.

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