Hospital attack leaves Moncton nurse injured, prompts calls for improved safety

Hospital attack leaves Moncton nurse injured, prompts calls for improved safety
The mother of a nurse at the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre in Moncton, N.B.,  is hoping safety and security measures can be improved following an alleged 11-minute attack on her daughter.

“When [staff] went in the office, she was lying on the floor and [the assailant] was trying to choke her,” Norma Melanson says.

“She tells me that was the possibility that it was the end of her life… She couldn’t call or cry anymore; she was sure she was going to die.”

Melanson says her daughter told her she was sitting at her desk on the computer when the man came into her office.

“He closed the door and he said, ‘I’ll give you three seconds to transfer my wife [to] another room,” Melanson said.

Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre on March 14, 2019

Melanson says the man pulled two clumps of hair from her daughter’s head. She now has a concussion, a brain contusion, two black eyes and possibly a broken nose.

RCMP have confirmed a 69-year-old man from Acadieville was arrested after police were called to the Georges Dumont Hospital for an assault of a staff member.

Corp. Jullie Rogers-Marsh says police were called in after 2 p.m. Monday.

She says charges have not been laid yet, but the man was released on a promise to appear in Moncton provincial court June 4.

Melanson says the attack could have been limited if there was a buzzer to call security in her office.

“She’s been thinking about that for safety purposes,” Melanson says. “But I’m sure that somebody is going to wake up and make sure that it’s everywhere.”

Melanson says more training and resources are needed, noting that her daughter will probably need counselling as the incident replays in her head.

“In their programs of orientation and orientation to our young nurses, when this happens — it shouldn’t happen, but how do we cope with brutal situations?” Melanson asks. “It’s savage… You know, there’s no other way of explaining the situation.”

Melanson says her daughter doesn’t want her mother to see the extent of the injuries.

She says her son called her to tell her about the assault while she was at the rehab centre, where she was recovering from open-heart surgery.

In an emailed statement from Vitalité Health Network, spokesperson Thomas Lizotte says it’s a troubling incident.

“We are very shaken by the incident and all our thoughts are going to the victim and her family,” the statement reads.

“Our employees’ health and safety is of utmost importance as we have a zero-tolerance policy regarding violence in the workplace.”

Maria Richard, the vice-president of the New Brunswick Nurses Union, says nurses face violence and harassment on a regular basis

The New Brunswick Nurses Union (NBNU) says new legislation for workplace harassment and violence, which comes into effect April 1, will help put a stop to workplace violence.

“We need to look at what happened to this particular nurse on Monday,” says vice-president Maria Richard. “We need to look at how and why it happened… and then we can look at concrete plans to make sure that it does not happen again to anyone.”

Richard says violence in the workplace is a “huge issue” for nurses.

Findings from a 2017 survey show 63.3 per cent of 1,700 RNs within the NBNU experienced a violent encounter on the job within a one-year period.

“Every day, or routinely, nurses face verbal abuse — getting spit on, getting pushed,” Richard says.

In an open letter to Premier Blaine Higgs last month, the nurses union voiced concern the province wouldn’t be including mandatory reporting of workplace violence.

Richard says a nursing shortage, causing strain on the healthcare system, will frustrate people and increase the number of violent incidents.

“It does not matter… Nobody should have to face violence in any kind of workplace,” Richard says.
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