Opinion: I’m angry nurses are being assaulted. Is our government angry too?

Chris Campbell

A nurse was viciously attacked by a patient while on shift at Abbotsford Regional Hospital on Tuesday.

According to a news release from the BC Nurses’ Union, the perpetrator used an “exercise weight as an improvised weapon” and “ambushed the nurse, leaving her with a broken jaw, fractured cheek bone, damaged teeth, as well as other serious facial and head injuries.”

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This isn’t some isolated incident.

I’ve seen it myself on two different occasions over the years. Both I witnessed while taking my stepdaughter to emergency due to figure skating injuries. The ER can be a tense place. People are hurting and frustrated at having to wait. Many others are drunk or high on drugs.

It’s in this atmosphere that I’ve seen people lash out at nurses. Nothing like the assault that took place earlier this week, but it was frightening and something that nurses have to deal with on a regular basis.

It’s got to stop. Someone has to take this more seriously. The same goes for transit drivers, who are also victims to this kind of violence.

Since 2017, BCNU has been running the campaign, “Violence. Not Part of the Job,” to raise awareness about the “systemic violence nurses experience on a daily basis.”

“I’m deeply troubled by this latest gruesome and excessively violent attack on one of our nurses,” said BCNU president Christine Sorensen, in a news release. “It’s time the government steps up and provides funding so that health authorities can ensure safety protocols are in place and nurses’ safety is made a priority.”

Tuesday’s attack comes just days after BCNU sent a letter to Dr. Victoria Lee, Fraser Health Authority’s President and CEO, calling for immediate action to address what the BCNU termed as “deteriorating conditions in ARH’s emergency department. While the assault happened in a different unit within ARH, ongoing violence, staffing shortages and recruitment and retention challenges have many nurses self-reporting moral distress, and burning out.”

Nurses have always taken care of me and my children. I value their work far above most professions.

I don’t care that it might cost a lot of money to make conditions safer. Find the money and get something done. Now.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.

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