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Press Release: Pregnant nurse attacked while NSHA says investigating safety concerns a waste of time

A nurse was attacked and sent to hospital days after the Nova Scotia Health Authority called a request for an independent violence in the workplace risk assessment a ‘waste of time’, says NSGEU President Jason MacLean.

“This nurse, 33 weeks pregnant, while being attacked by a patient was left completely vulnerable because her personal security alarm was not within reach and held together with masking tape which made it impossible to signal for help,” says MacLean. “This issue was brought to the employer two months ago, on two different occasions, and each time the concerns were dismissed. This nurse could have lost a child. What more is it going to take before the NSHA takes action to protect its nurses and health care workers?”

On February 23, 2018, in accordance with the Occupational Health & Safety Act a report was submitted to NSHA management, part of that report included:

  • Concerns that Personal Security Alarms (PLAs) were not consistently in working order;
  • The PLA is triggered by using a slide button, the tape being used to hold the PLAs together prevented the emergency slide button from being easily activated;
  • The secondary alarm is triggered by pulling a string to remove the bottom plate, this is also hindered by the use of tape
  • A request for a qualified independent violence in the work place risk assessment be conducted.

These, along with other health and safety concerns, were not addressed to the satisfaction of the employees so on March 28, 2018 a report was submitted to the Joint Occupational Health & Safety Committee.  In a follow-up meeting on April 16, 2018, the employees were told a violence in the workplace risk assessment would be a waste of time.

“One week after having their safety concerns dismissed this nurse was attacked. If not for others hearing her screams who knows what the outcome could have been for her and her unborn child,” says MacLean. “For too long the NSHA has turned a blind eye to the safety concerns of nurses and health care worker who are doing their best to hold a broken health care system together. These are dedicated women and men who are committed to caring for sick and vulnerable people. They should be given the tools to do their jobs safely.”

The NSGEU is calling on the NSHA to immediately conduct an independent violence in the workplace risk assessment, staff assessment and equipment assessment in all provincial health care facilities, starting with the East Coast Forensics Hospital.

“This is not an isolated incident, nurses and health care workers are telling us that the lack of staff and broken equipment is an issue in hospitals and health care facilities across the entire province,” says MacLean. “This is first hand proof that our health care system is being held together by tape. It’s no exaggeration that someone is going to die if these concerns are not properly addressed.”

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The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union represents over 30,000 women and men who provide quality public services Nova Scotians count on every day.

For more information, please contact:

Lucas Wide

NSGEU Communications Officer

902-497-5010 (cell)

902-424-4063 (office) 877-556.7438 (toll free) lwide@nsgeu.ca

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