Violence Escalating at CAMH: Registered Nurses & Health-Care Workers Call for Action Now



    TORONTO, Oct. 21 /CNW/ - The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) and the
Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) are again calling on the Centre
for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) to take immediate action to stem the
rising number of violent attacks on front-line health-care workers.
    The call comes following another incident at CAMH in which a registered
nurse was grabbed and dragged into a washroom by a patient who sexually
assaulted her. Less than one year ago, three RNs at CAMH were injured in an
incident also involving a violent attack by a patient.
    "Little has changed in the 11 months since ONA last called for increased
safety at CAMH," notes ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "Health-care
workers at CAMH have noted an increase in the number of workplace violence
incidents - 23 in the last month alone. CAMH is moving much too slowly in
addressing this serious situation and our health-care providers are paying the
price."
    "These violent attacks and CAMH's obvious disregard for worker safety
really highlight the need for stronger health and safety legislation," said
OPSEU President Smokey Thomas. "We know the Ministry of Labour is considering
covering workplace violence under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Attacks like this are why we need them to act now."
    In the most recent incident, the RN involved had no panic button or cell
phone to call for help; the nurse was spared serious injury when another
patient heard her screams and managed to startle the attacker, enabling the
nurse to escape and go for help. The incident occurred on the forensic
treatment floor, where clients are sent to be assessed or treated, often
before they are go to trial.
    "The location where this attack occurred is a 'blind spot' as far as
security is concerned," notes Haslam-Stroud. "There are no security cameras in
this particular spot."
    ONA and OPSEU believe CAMH is in violation of orders written by the
Ministry of Labour inspectors called to the facility. Following the assaults
on RNs last November, the Ministry ordered that CAMH develop a workplace
violence policy and program. To date, there is no workplace violence program
in place.

    ONA is the union representing 54,000 registered nurses and allied health
professionals working in hospitals, long-term care, public health, the
community, clinics and industry. ONA is celebrating 35 years of nursing
advocacy - a proud past, a powerful future.

    OPSEU represents 130,000 public-sector workers across the province,
including more than 30,000 in the health-care sector.





For further information:

For further information: Ontario Nurses' Association: Ruth Featherstone,
(416) 964-8833, ext. 2267; Sheree Bond, (416) 964-8833, ext. 2430; OPSEU: Rick
Janson, (416) 443-8888, ext. 8383; Lisa McCaskell, (416) 443-8888 ext. 8774


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