Home Workplace News Manitoba Nurses Union calls for better security after scary incident in Selkirk’s hospital

Manitoba Nurses Union calls for better security after scary incident in Selkirk’s hospital

by Local Journalism Initiative
By Dave Baxter | Winnipeg Sun

A Manitoba nurse is sounding the alarm over a scary incident, and over safety concerns they say have nurses working on edge and in fear, while feeling that no one is taking their concerns seriously.

“We feel that we are all alone. That something bad is going to happen. Nobody cares,” reads a post that was posted anonymously on the Manitoba Nurses Union (MNU) Facebook page on Monday morning from what MNU said is a rural Manitoba nurse.

In 2020, MNU started posting direct messages they received from nurses about the state of health care in the province, but without revealing the identity of those workers, as part of a social media campaign they now refer to as ‘behind the mask.’

A post shared on Monday morning says a scary incident at a health-care facility last week left nurses shaken and unsure if they can trust in the people who are paid to keep them safe.

“We have contracted security, and many of the officers are great. But sadly, without the required tactics and trained personnel, this isn’t always helpful,” the post reads. “This week we had an intoxicated patient pull out what looked like a handgun. We called 911 multiple times, and it took them almost 20 minutes to respond.

“One of our security officers was great, while the other tried to run and hide. We notified management and senior leadership, who came down and watched the events unfold. During the episode, the patient went outside. No one knew how to lock the door.”

According to the nurse, there were no injuries as a result of the incident, but they said there is a growing unease in the facility and a feeling their safety concerns are not a priority.

“We have been chastised for complaining about our workload, and telling management we feel unsafe. Yet there are very sound reasons for this,” the post reads.

“In the end, everything worked out. But sadly, after the event was over, no one checked on the staff who were involved.”

The nurse added there is also concern for the safety of patients, as there were 25 patients in the waiting room at the time of the incident.

RCMP responded to a complaint at the Selkirk Regional Health Centre that a male, possibly armed, was causing a disturbance.

“It was reported the male was inside the hospital throwing items and jumping on chairs,” an RCMP spokesperson said.

Police said when officers were arresting the suspect he “spit on one of them, threatened them and resisted arrest” and after a brief struggle, he was placed in handcuffs, found to be in possession of a replica firearm and taken into custody.

MNU president Darlene Jackson said in an email she believes there is going to have to be a lot more work done to get the right kind of safety officers into health-care facilities in both urban and rural Manitoba, to ensure nurses can feel safe at work.

“MNU has been advocating for Institutional Safety Officers (ISOs) since they were incorporated into The Police Services Amendment Act,” Jackson said. “These individuals would have the ability to use the powers and protections of a peace officer while exercising powers and performing duties under the act.

“We believe more robust security is necessary given the current state of affairs in health care. However, without training and equipping ISOs to the full extent of their powers, and ensuring we have sufficient staffing levels, we fear the serious problems and incidents will persist.”

In an email, an IERHA spokesperson said the health authority “takes the safety and security of patients, staff and visitors very seriously.”

“We have connected with the affected staff to offer them supports,” the spokesperson said.

“We appreciate the work of staff in the emergency department who continue to provide care in challenging circumstances. We also appreciate the efforts of security to help diffuse the situation without incident.”

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