Less than two weeks after a nurse was injured in an unprovoked attack at Abbotsford Regional Hospital (ARH), a security guard has been added to the hospital’s emergency room.
Fraser Health said in a statement that the recent incidents and assaults by patients on staff are “extremely upsetting” and they have implemented changes, such as adding a dedicated 24/7 security officer specifically stationed in the ER.
On March 1, a 39-year-old nurse was attacked by a 23-year-old man who was in the emergency department for medical and mental health treatment. The nurse had cuts above and below his eye and required stitches.
Ryan Michael Stard, 23, has been charged with assault causing bodily harm in relation to the incident and is next scheduled to appear in court on April 2.
Erin Labbe, senior public affairs consultant with Fraser Health, said the guard is in the ER and “visible to both patients and staff, so it provides a bit more sense of security for everyone in that environment.”
Fraser Health stated that incidents of violence and aggression towards staff vary between hospitals, depending on size, services and the population served, and each hospital is addressed individually.
The hospital previously had two security guards for the building.
Labbe said they have also added a door where previously there was an open space from the waiting area and the triage area. Now there is a secure glass door that requires people to be buzzed in and out, she said.
“(Nurses) still have a safe access point, they can still see patients who are in the waiting room, but there is a safe barrier between them and the waiting room area that they can buzz people in and out of,” said Labbe.
Katherine Hamilton, B.C. Nurses’ Union’s Fraser Valley chair, said she is “tentatively pleased” with the security commitment. Hamilton said following the incident, she put out a call to Fraser Health in the media for a security guard in the emergency room, and is happy they responded.
But there needs to be an increase in security throughout the hospital, as incidents can also happen in the wards, she said.
Hamilton added they have waited four years for the secure door, which wasn’t installed in response to the attack.
Additional measures are needed at ARH, such as barriers for triage nurses when they first meet patients so nurses can determine level of care “while staying safe,” said Hamilton. She said ARH also needs a seclusion room in the emergency room for those with violent outbursts, which other hospitals of similar size have.
She said they want the security guards in the hospital to be more visible and “appropriately trained.”
“We need people who know what to do in a serious incident.”