A violent incident at Forensic Psychiatric Hospital (FPH) in Coquitlam put another staff member in harm's way yesterday afternoon because of the ongoing failure of the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) to adequately resource and protect workers at the facility.
Following his release from long-time seclusion, a patient assaulted a staff member whose colleagues were unable to immediately restrain the patient because access was blocked by locked doors – prolonging the assault. The severity of the injury prompted the submission of a report to the Workers' Compensation Board (WCB).
The Forensic Psychiatric Hospital houses up to 190 patients who have been deemed either unfit to serve trial or criminally not 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 BC Government & Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) president Stephanie Smith. "It is unacceptable to continue allowing health care workers to be exposed to potentially violent patients without such protections."
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.
FPH has been issued 54 Workers' Compensation Board safety orders and 102 WCB inspection reports have been filed in the last five 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 represents over 270 members at Forensic Psychiatric Hospital, including 130 health care workers, 15 forensic security officers (FSO), 25 dietary staff, 7 social workers and 27 administrative staff.
The next PHSA board meeting will be held June 29, 2017, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm in Vancouver.
For more information contact: Bronwen Barnett, BCGEU Communications | e: [email protected] | c: 604-719-4713