GUELPH — The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) is appalled at the lack of safety at Guelph General Hospital that has come to light in several serious incidents recently. ONA has filed a grievance against the hospital and is looking for immediate mandatory violence prevention training, a system for flagging violent patients and panic buttons for nurses working in units who do not currently possess them.
“Guelph General Hospital has flouted the laws around workplace safety meant to protect not only our dedicated registered nurses, but our patients and their families as well,” said ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. “One of our members was injured when a patient became suddenly violent, grabbed the RN’s wrist, hit her in the face with a full bottle of urine, bit, punched and kicked her. Help was not readily available to the RN.
“This veteran RN had to be treated for a laceration and a deep bite, had to have blood tests for HIV and hepatitis, and is on antibiotics after the urine splashed in her eyes, nose and mouth,” notes Haslam-Stroud. “Not only did the hospital subsequently fail to inform the proper individuals, its Joint Health and Safety Committee and ONA until a full five days after the incident, but the failure to communicate resulted in the same patient assaulting a family member two days later.”
In another incident, it was revealed that the hospital has failed to stock proper protective equipment. This came to light when a patient who was contaminated arrived by ambulance and there was no personal protective equipment for staff to don in order to decontaminate the patient, nor was there a proper bay to clean the patient. Staff took the patient outside to an ambulatory area to clean off the substance with soapy water.
“Guelph General should have taken workplace safety more seriously after the shooting incident in its ER last year,” said Haslam-Stroud. “Clearly, this employer must be dragged into compliance with workplace safety laws, procedures and directives. What will it take before this employer takes the appropriate action to avoid its staff, family members and others from being injured? It is imperative that this hospital take safety concerns seriously. Instituting temporary, stop-gap measures after an incident is not acceptable.”
ONA is the union representing 60,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals, as well as more than 14,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.