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Accepting violence in P.E.I. health care: 'The culture needs to change'

Mona O'Shea, president of the P.E.I. Nurses Union, was in Ottawa recently, attending a two-day round table discussion about violence in the health-care system. O'Shea said she would like to share what she learned with Health P.E.I. in an effort to address workplace violence concerns in the province.  ©THE GUARDIAN
Mona O'Shea, president of the P.E.I. Nurses Union, was in Ottawa recently, attending a two-day round table discussion about violence in the health-care system. O'Shea said she would like to share what she learned with Health P.E.I. in an effort to address workplace violence concerns in the province. ©THE GUARDIAN - Maureen Coulter

The president of the P.E.I. Nurses Union (PEINU) recently attended a two-day round table discussion in Ottawa to talk about the crisis of violence in the Canadian health-care system.

“The stakeholders around the table had a wide range of professionalism behind them,” said Mona O’Shea, who was one of about 40 people representing about 17 unions in attendance.

“Right from frontline workers to management to professors to lawyers, it was a great mix of individuals from all walks of life who are concerned about the rise in violence in health care.”

According to a 2005 Statistics Canada report, 34 per cent of nurses reported physical assault from a patient in the workplace.

“The culture needs to change,” said O’Shea.

“The majority of frontline workers across our health-care system do not fill in worksite situation reports because they feel hitting, punching and spitting has become normalized in their workplace environment.”

RELATED: Escalating violence against P.E.I. health-care workers

O’Shea says the only step taken so far on P.E.I. to mitigate workplace violence is the Aggressive/Violent Behaviour Alert for Acute Care Facilities program.

This program was rolled out by Health P.E.I. in late 2017 in an effort to address workplace violence.

However, O’Shea says this program is needed in all facilities, not just in P.E.I. hospitals.

She does applaud Health P.E.I. for starting this program, but she doesn’t feel it goes far enough.

“I do feel, after being at these two days of meetings in Ottawa, that we are very far behind compared to the rest of the country.”

O’Shea said she would like to see a risk assessment tool in place to determine the threat of a patient and to record all intentional or unintentional assaults so health-care workers are aware of the risks before tending to a patient.

O’Shea said she would also like to take the “normalization” out of workplace violence.

She hopes to share with Health P.E.I. what she learned in Ottawa.

“It’s important that we don’t reinvent the wheel,” said O’Shea. “If we have all stakeholders partner together on this, we can move mountains.”

Maureen.Coulter@TheGuardian.pe.ca

Twitter - MaureenElizaC

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