HSC to install ‘amnesty lockers’ to boost safety

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So-called amnesty lockers have been introduced at the Health Sciences Centre emergency department.

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So-called amnesty lockers have been introduced at the Health Sciences Centre emergency department.

It’s part of a “very, very bold” action plan Health Minister Audrey Gordon outlined Thursday to recruit, retain and train 2,000 more health care professionals.

The lockers are part of the plan to make workers feel safe at the downtown hospital.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

It’s part of a “very, very bold” action plan Health Minister Audrey Gordon outlined Thursday to recruit, retain and train 2,000 more health care professionals.

“The amnesty lockers allow people to voluntarily lock up things that they may have on their person that might be considered weapons or if they have something they should not have with them,” said Jennifer Cumpsty, executive director of acute health services at HSC.

“It will, hopefully, increase the security of staff and other patients in the ER,” Cumpsty said of the pilot project. “It’s an opportunity — knowing that we serve a vulnerable population — for them to lock up their belongings, as well.”

The action plan includes “institutional safety officers” and increasing the number of peace officers for large emergency departments in Manitoba.

The president of the Manitoba Nurses Union called that long-awaited good news.

Darlene Jackson said nurses have been wanting safety officers for three years.

Nurses don’t feel safe because some patients and visitors take weapons into the hospital and there’s no one to manage volatile situations because security guards aren’t empowered to restrain people, she said.

The HSC nurses were the driving force behind the amnesty lockers, as well, knowing that some of the vulnerable people they help carry objects for self defence, Jackson said.

“They understand the situations of many who live in the area.”

The action plan includes:

• A joint nursing council with a focus on working conditions, work life, and recruitment and retention of nurses.

• A centralized virtual emergency care and transfer resource service to support rural and northern physicians and other health-care providers to obtain specialist consultative advice, locate the most appropriate bed available in another hospital when needed, and co-ordinate inter-facility medical transportation to the most appropriate facility when required.

• Financial support for increased personal protective equipment costs due to the pandemic.

• Establishing a joint task force to reduce administrative burden for physicians.

• A remote location incentive.

To promote training and recruitment, it will offer a tuition rebate for full-time nurses and a financial incentive for retired nurses to return in a coaching, mentoring or support role. It will “modernize” a memorandum of understanding with the Philippines that enables recruitment from there, and address testing costs and remedial training for returning, retired and international nurses.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.

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