Two nurses violently assaulted at Forensic Psychiatric Hospital, BCNU calls for immediate security improvements

TWO nurses working at Coquitlam’s Forensic Psychiatric Hospital (FPH) have been assaulted in as many weeks while trying to provide safe patient care at the facility, the B.C. Nurses’ Union said on Thursday.

The most recent attack happened on August 13 in the maximum-security unit. Fortunately, the nurse was immediately seen by a physician on the unit who sent her to hospital to be treated for severe facial injuries. On August 5, another nurse working at FPH was sucker punched and suffered head injuries.

Both nurses continue to undergo treatment for their physical injuries and are recuperating. “They are extremely emotionally traumatized,” said BCNU President Christine Sorensen. “These ongoing assaults on nurses are simply unacceptable and cannot continue to happen.”

According to Sorensen, BCNU has been working together with management for some time to improve the safety at the high-risk site over the longer term. “But action is needed now,” she said. “That’s why we are calling for the immediate addition of safety protection officers on every unit at the facility.”

There are over 200 BCNU members at FPH who work with the most clinically challenging patients in the province and Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) must do more to protect them, the union said.

“Although we do acknowledge that there have been efforts made to support staff and improve security and safety at the facility, we cannot continue to allow nurses to be used as punching bags and repeatedly hit or abused,” Sorensen says.

Health care remains one of the most hazardous industries in BC due to acts of violence or force committed against workers, according to WorkSafeBC’s 2016 Annual Report.

“No partner, child or parent of a nurse should have to continually worry that their loved one may be assaulted while they are at work,” Sorensen said.