December 20, 2013 - 10:01 AM
KAMLOOPS – A young nurse was punched in the face and knocked to the ground by a mentally ill patient with a history of violent attacks on Dec. 13 while working alone on the ward.
It took eight staff members to get him off of her and the patient then assaulted an RCMP officer while being taken to jail in handcuffs.
The B.C. Nurses' Union says earlier requests for more staff were denied by management even though baseline staffing on the unit is for three nurses.
"This attack might never have happened had safe staffing levels been in place," says BCNU Executive Councillor Marg Dhilln. "This nurse is a new grad in her 20's and she was knowingly put at risk by the Hillside Centre, which has ignored our calls for safe staffing levels."
The patient who attacked the nurse was transferred from a forensic facility less than two weeks ago. While at forensics, he was required to have four staff members on duty, at least three of them male. After his arrest, the patient's behavior was so difficult, staff from the jail requested he be sent back to Hillside. The next day he was returned, once additional staffing was secured.
The BCNU says it has repeatedly raised safety concerns with Hillside and the union has met with the employer on more than one occasion to emphasize contract language on safe staffing.
The Hillside Centre is a 44 bed psychiatric facility which provides services for patients with severely dysfunctional behaviours. This year alone, there have been 64 reported incidents of physical violence. During Saturday's assault, two other patients began fighting in another unit. Once the nurse was rescued, staff rushed to contain the second altercation.
BCNU's Thompson North Okanagan Chair, Tracy Quewezance is demanding Interior Health and the Hillside Centre provide safe staffing levels, not just minimums, at all times.
"Nurses are working short, caring for patients that even the jail can't handle. A young nurse has been severely traumatized. She'll never go back there. It could have been a lot worse."
Attacks between patients have also been an issue this year. Dementia patient John Furman, 96, killed roommate William May, 85, at a Vernon care home back in August and in Kamloops 79-year-old Jack Shippobotham died after being assaulted by a 71-year-old fellow patient at the Overlander Extended Care Unit back in June. Furman was later found not fit to stand trial while the 71-year-old in Kamloops died a few months after he assaulted Shippobotham.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013