"For months we have been urging the PHSA to provide suitable protections for staff on par with similar hospitals across Canada such as body armour, blocking pads, and meal pass-through doors for those in seclusion." — Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President
Vancouver (15 June 2017) — A violent incident at Forensic Psychiatric Hospital (FPH) in Coquitlam put another staff member in harm's way on June 13 because of the ongoing failure of the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) to adequately resource and protect workers at the facility.
Health care and security workers not provided necessary resources to manage violent outbursts by patients
Following his release from long-time seclusion, a patient carried out a prolonged assault on a staff member, as colleagues were unable to immediately restrain the patient due to locked doors. The severity of the injury prompted a report to the Workers' Compensation Board (WCB).
The FPH houses up to 190 patients who have been deemed either unfit to serve trial or not criminally responsible for their crimes due to mental illness. Yet despite the often precarious state of many patients, neither health care workers nor security officers are provided with the resources or protections necessary to manage frequent violent outbursts.
"For months we have been urging the PHSA to provide suitable protections for staff on par with similar hospitals across Canada such as body armour, blocking pads, and meal pass-through doors for those in seclusion," says Stephanie Smith, President of the B.C. Government & Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE). "It is unacceptable to continue allowing health care workers to be exposed to potentially violent patients without such protections."
BCGEU President to raise safety issues at next PHSA meeting
The BCGEU's 50th Constitutional Convention is currently underway in Vancouver where issues of occupational health and safety, including violence in the workplace, will be reviewed. Smith is also scheduled to attend the next PHSA board meeting to speak on behalf of members in calling for improved onsite safety measures at the hospital.
Not the first instance of violence at Forensic Psychiatric Hospital
FPH has been issued 54 Workers' Compensation Board safety orders and 102 WCB inspection reports have been filed in the last 5 years, mostly resulting from the employer's failure to protect workers from violence. A $171,000 fine was issued by the WCB in the fall of 2016 for extremely dangerous conditions at the facility, yet the violence continues.
The BCGEU/NUPGE represents over 270 members at Forensic Psychiatric Hospital, including 130 health care workers, 15 forensic security officers, 25 dietary staff, 7 social workers and 27 administrative staff.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. ~ NUPGE