The provincial health ministry is placing as many as 10 security officers in each of Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace and Prince Rupert Regional Hospital in Prince Rupert to decrease violence and increase safety for employees and patients.
The two hospitals, along with the University Hospital of Northern British Columbia in Prince George, are the only hospitals in the north among 26 health care facilities in the province where more protection is considered necessary than is already in place through private security firms.
In all, 320 security officers will be trained and hired along with 14 supervisors to work at the 26 facilities.
Although hospitals the size of Mills and Prince Rupert Regional have had cameras and private security officers on-site for years, creating a new force follows a marked increase in danger and violence faced by employees and patients at health care facilities.
In addition to the private security firms, health care facilities rely on either the RCMP or municipal police forces when situations escalate.
Information provided by the health ministry emphasizes the new hires will be working within a ‘relational security model’ described as “unique and separate from the present model of contracted out service and it focuses on integrating different security aspects.
The health ministry is providing the Northern Health Authority with the money to put the new safety measure in place but there’s no indication yet of when the new officers will begin their duties.
“We will provide updates about the important work being done to make health-care facilities safer, including in Northern Health region,” indicated the ministry in a provided statement.
Increases in emotional, verbal or physical violence at health care facilities has resulted in more leaves and absences among health care employees or causing them to quit the workforce altogether.
As part of the province’s plan for more safety and security an agency has been created called SwitchBC, short for “Safety, Wellbeing, Innovation, Training and Collaboration in Healthcare.”
Its job is to come up with a wide variety of safety programs and to ask healthcare workers for their ideas on maintaining safer workplaces.