Nurses to get panic alarms at rural hospital

March attack prompts safety enhancements


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BRANDON -- Extra security measures to protect rural hospital staff are on the way as the province prepares to bring in new health and workplace safety regulations.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/07/2011 (4261 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

BRANDON — Extra security measures to protect rural hospital staff are on the way as the province prepares to bring in new health and workplace safety regulations.

Assiniboine RHA CEO Penny Gilson said personal panic alarms for nurses should be installed at the Hamiota health centre as a pilot project by early August — just before the new regulations take effect Aug. 31..

The new rules require health-care employers, and employers in other sectors, to implement measures to prevent violence against employees.

The changes will also require violence-prevention policies with procedures that will allow employees to get immediate help when threatened.

Violence-prevention policies will also be required to protect employees in the policing, corrections, security, crisis counselling, financial, pharmacy, education, public and taxi sectors.

Gilson said the RHA plans to have the panic-alarm systems installed at each of its hospitals and personal-care homes.

However, it will take some time to test the systems. It will be introduced at Hamiota while the RHA seeks vendors to install systems at its other sites.

Gilson said she wants to gauge nurses’ response to the alarm systems before considering the possibility of stationing security guards at its sites.

The RHA is working with a security agency on a plan that will allow staff at its facilities to call for protection on short notice. It will also assess its buildings for potential security improvements, such as improved locks, and ways to secure objects that could be used as weapons. That’s something that’s already done in Hamiota.

For now, staff is encouraged to carry two-way radios and they can ask for a shift partner if they think working alone is too risky.

Calls for increased safety were made after a nurse was attacked at the Hamiota hospital. On March 15, a patient at the Hamiota District Health Centre cornered a pair of nurses.

He stabbed a nurse with a pen, hit her with a piece of wood and also tried to choke her with a wooden board.

When another employee arrived and called 911, the patient fled, stole a car and was Tasered and arrested after a police chase.

A psychiatrist later attributed the man’s behaviour to an epileptic seizure that left him in a state of psychosis.

The man maintains he doesn’t remember the attack. Last week, a provincial court judge found him not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder.

His case has been handed over to the Criminal Code Review Board. He remains in custody pending a hearing to be held within the next few months.

The board will decide whether he gets an absolute discharge and is released, receives a conditional discharge — he may live in a group home with conditions — or whether he’ll be detained at a mental-health facility.


— Brandon Sun

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