B.C. nurse alleges assault by patient

B.C. health workers face rough conditions on daily basis

B.C. nurse alleges assault by patient

A nurse in British Columbia claimed that she was assaulted by a patient over the weekend.

Arlene Tedjo was working in the emergency department of Kamloops' Royal Inland Hospital on Saturday. At that time, RCMP were called in to respond to an incident involving a man whose behaviour, Tedjo said, escalated to the point where it was dangerous and unmanageable.

The patient was unresponsive but was later roused by Tedjo. When she walked by minutes later, the patient suddenly attacked her, said Tedjo.

"That individual purposely waited until I was walking past to kick my leg with the intent of tripping me," Tedjo told CTV News, adding the patient nearly struck another co-worker.

The patient then yelled at Tedjo, saying “I don't know how they do things in your country,” she claims.

This implied that the patient thought that she was from another country and that he was being racist towards her level of education and professionalism, said Tedjo.

“I'm angry and insulted because firstly, I am Canadian and I am trained as a Canadian nurse. It should not matter if I was born here or not,” she said.

However, the incident is simply the reality that frontline hospital workers are dealing with on a regular basis, said Tedjo, adding on the day of the incident, the department was operating with just over 50 per cent of the staff required.

"We are all working over time. We are understaffed. We are under-supported on a daily basis. We're going through a global pandemic, through extreme heat waves, another wildfire season – on top of that we're getting verbally abused and physically abused, which sadly isn't new," she said.

"We're sick and tired of working in unsafe conditions and can't cope with being the one that everything falls on to anymore."

The Kamloops RCMP were called to the hospital for reports of an assault and took one man into custody, according to a CTV News report. Tedjo said the man's condition was stable at the time.

The patient has been released with a promise to appear in court at a later date.

Nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of healthcare workers experienced physical violence, according to a report from the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). And this only adds to the grim picture that the healthcare system is already: Nine per cent of doctors have had suicidal thoughts but have never attempted to take their own life while about one per cent have attempted suicide, according to a report from Medscape released in May. Also, during the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario, when 75 per cent of Canadian nurses were classified as burnt out, according to the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO).

In March, nearly 40 health-worker organizations called for the federal and provincial governments to step in to address Canada's ailing health systems.

Ontario healthcare employers must do a better job protecting their frontline workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a previous report. In November 2021, New Brunswick announced it will collaborate with health partners to create a new strategy to address health, safety and wellness in the workplace for health-care professionals.