Increased security, more staff and expanding training are just a few changes coming to the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam, following dozens of calls by the B.C. Nurses Union to improve safety.
The Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), which co-operates the facility with the Ministry of Health and B.C. Mental Health and Substance Use Services, has announced two new 24-7 security officers, a specialized clinical-security liaison team and new training that will include regular mock-response scenarios to practice emergency protocols.
Officials will also be reinstating “special constable” status for forensic security guards to give them more authority in an emergency.
The 190-bed facility treats patients with serious and complex mental-health challenges who have been found not criminally responsible for a crime, or have been found unfit to stand trial.
“We have an incredibly compassionate and skilled labour force that provides high-quality care to a high-needs population in challenging working conditions,” Carl Roy, PHSA CEO, said in a statement Wednesday. “We must do everything we can to improve staff safety and ensure our employees have effective training and security measures in place.”
Nurses union president Christine Sorenson, said that after years of calling for increased safety for employees, she’s “pleased” with the changes.
The improvements are part of an action plan that was completed after an extensive external review with a team of international forensics experts. The PHSA did not detail how many additional nurses and other staff will be hired.