Union, staff lash out at Montreal General Hospital leadership over lack of security
Published Monday, September 4, 2017 2:14PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 6, 2017 1:53PM EDT
Union leaders and staff are reacting with anger days after two Montreal General Hospital employees were injured by an aggressive patient, saying the situation could have been avoided had warnings been heeded.
A 25-year-old man was admitted to hospital on Friday due to psychological problems, according to police.
Early on Saturday morning, for unknown reasons, the man attacked a nurse and an assistant nurse in the psychiatric emergency ward. The 34-year-old and 44-year-old employees both suffered injuries to their upper bodies but police said they are expected to fully recover and were given several days off work.
Daniel-Martin Leduc is a nurse at the hospital who was on duty at the time of the attack. He said there were no security guards in the ward at the time of the attack, which only ended after two orderlies intervened. He said had they not, "she would have died."
"I'm not trying to be dramatic, or make it more substantial than it is," he said. "I think it needs to be said in a factual fashion. She would have been dead."
He said while his colleague will recover physically, she is devastated emotionally.
Making matters worse is that warnings about safety concerns had been given to management for some time.
Manuel Fernandes, interim president of the MUHC CSN Employee Union, said his initial reaction to the situation was "anger."
"We've been raising concerns, this has been going on for well over a year," he said. "Senior leadership has been made aware we don't feel we have sufficient security guards."
Fernandes said there are three security guards for the entire hospital, with one manning the security desk at all times and another assigned solely to the emergency room.
"We've had thefts. Laptops have been stolen, a doctor's camera has been stolen. They're aware of all this but we keep getting the same response," he said. "'Everything's fine, three security guards are sufficient.' It's not sufficient and we were concerned some day something like this would happen."
Leduc and Fernandes said the reason for the lack of security is significant cuts to the MUHC's budget by the provincial government.
"Without going into the politics and so on, I think it's well known right now we have a lot of budget cuts coming from the government," said Leduc. "Unfortunately, these cuts are yielding significantly fewer security agents throughout the hospital."
MUHC officials said more security would be added in response to the attack "until further notice."
"What we want to do is a full assessment of what took place Saturday morning, understand what happened, understand how we can prevent it from happening again," said MUHC communications director Richard Fahey.
Fernandes said that while the MUHC budget has been cut, decreasing the money available for security shouldn't be an option.
"You're talking about somebody's life," he said. "Of course the nurse, but also the patient. This has an impact on the patient."
The suspect is unknown to police. He is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday to face several charges of aggravated assault.