KGH security tightened

Madison Erhardt

UPDATE: 12:40 p.m.

Interior Health says even one violent attack on a nurse is too many.

Health service administrator Andrew Hughes said Wednesday: "Exposure to violence is something we're faced with in health care.

"Because of the stress patients are often under, their behaviour can be quite unpredictable."

Hughes didn't have stats on specific incidents of violence against staff at Kelowna General Hospital or within the Interior Health region. But, he did say "any incident is unacceptable."

Wednesday's announcement of increased security at KGH will add two security officers to the Emergency Department. Currently, there are three to six, depending on the time of day.

Hughes says the yearlong pilot project will cost $80,000, and its success will be evaluated in September, with a final report in the new year.

UPDATE: 11:30 a.m.

On average, 26 nurses per month suffer a violent injury at work in B.C.

The head of the BC Nurses' Union is praising additional security announced Wednesday at Kelowna General Hospital.

"Certainly, violence has always occurred, but we're now finding that nurses are more aware and are no longer accepting it," said acting president Christine Sorensen.

Of those 26 injuries, "that is those who report the incident," she said. "We know there are more. They don't always result in an injury, sometimes it's psychological trauma."

Sorensen said a whopping 31 per cent of injuries in the health and social sector reported to WorksafeBC are suffered by nurses.

She's most pleased that the additional security at KGH will provide 24/7 backup in the Emergency Department, when overnight shifts had previously gone without.

ORIGINAL: 10 a.m.

Security is being increased at Kelowna General Hospital.

A pilot project announced Wednesday by Interior Health and the BC Nurses’ Union will add two full-time security guards to the Emergency Department on a trial basis.

The move follows a meeting in February between the parties to address safety concerns brought forward by nursing staff regarding combative and sometimes violent patients.

The initiative is driven by "nurses and other health-care workers who have reported feeling unsafe,” said Christine Sorensen, acting president of the BCNU.

In addition to existing security at KGH, the two additional security officers began covering the 6 p.m. to midnight and midnight to 6 a.m. shifts this week.

IH is also surveying KGH Emergency staff to assess how safe they feel at work.

“BCNU and IH are committed to a safer workplace,” said Mal Griffin, Interior Health’s vice-president of human resources. “We are optimistic that this collaborative, solutions-based approach to the reality of violence in the workplace will protect all health-care workers in their ability to provide safe patient care.”

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