KAMLOOPS – It took several high profile assaults and meetings with the B.C. Nurses' Union, but the province is funding violence prevention initiatives at psychiatric facilities across B.C.
The $2-million announcement, made today, Aug. 6 by Health Minister Terry Lake and B.C. Nurses’ Union President Gayle Duteil, will provide violence prevention action to four different facilities, including Hillside Centre in Kamloops.
This announcement comes in the wake of a high profile attack on a nurse nearly four months ago at Hillside Centre, a tertiary psychiatric facility.
The nurse, never identified, was hospitalized after her ordeal. Duteil says the nurse has since returned to work on a 'return to work basis.'
“We can’t accept that this violence is inevitable or acceptable,” Lake says, adding the ministry fully understands the unique needs and challenges of each facility and has specially tailored a plan for each.
While 12 sites are earmarked the focus will be on the four most challenging sites with 'complex and unpredictable' patient populations first.
Increased staffing levels, including specially trained security officers, increased education and training for code white situations and violence prevention, as well as personal protective equipment in the form of personal alarms, are among the changes being implemented at Hillside Centre.
Duteil says Hillside Centre will feature 24-hour staffing and security and no nurse will have to work alone.
“The sites were selected because of their increased levels of violence,” Duteil says, adding province-wide 700 sites are on the union’s radar.
During a June funding announcement in Kamloops Lake said Hillside Centre is a 'very safe facility.' Lake also said the ministry had follow-up meetings at Hillside Centre with staff, Interior Health and the nurses’ union. Together, they were developing and assessing the staffing and security levels in place.
While he admitted he had not received an update ‘in a while,’ he was sure the work done was very cooperative and remained 'hopeful and very optimistic' they would be able to address some of the concerns of the nurses and the families. He said his staff had reported that talks with health authorities and the union were going well.
In light of these reassurances, Lake deemed the centre safe with the caveat that change is a process.
“I would say, Hillside for instance, is a very safe facility and the practices there are very good and training for nurses in terms of code whites and other security training is extensive but of course it’s continuing.”
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