By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
An assault on a paramedic at Lakeridge Health – Oshawa has left the local union reeling as they look for answers.
The paramedic in question was left with facial injuries as well as a concussion according to CUPE 1764, 03, 04 president Kristie Osmond-Jones.
The man who attacked the paramedic was taken into custody by police under the Mental Health Act on Saturday, Jan. 4.
While he was waiting to be assessed at the hospital, he became violent and attacked the paramedic, who was trying to calm him down.
She notes he is currently recovering from his injuries.
Osmond-Jones told The Oshawa Express is was a “series of unfortunate events” which led to the assault.
She adds she doesn’t want to “point any fingers,” but she wants more to be done to protect paramedics from this type of incident.
“To my knowledge, nothing is done… it’s one of those situations where there’s times where they’re out on calls, they’re out in the community, and it’s very reactionary,” she explains.
For Osmond-Jones, the issue she’s having with this particular situation is the fact person who committed the assault was in police custody, and he was supposed to be in a controlled environment.
“In a controlled environment like that, one would think a paramedic would have a secure place to do their paperwork,” she says.
Sharon Navarro, manager of public relations with Lakeridge Health, told The Express via email they take “the health and safety of everyone at all our locations very seriously.”
However, Navarro noted the incidents of violence do happen “from time to time” in a healthcare environment.
“As an organization committed to continuous improvement, Lakeridge Health takes the time to fully review these situations and our policies and practices to determine whether further enhancements are required to our already comprehensive safety and security plan,” Navarro wrote.
While Osmond-Jones thinks more can be done, the most important piece is to give paramedics a secure area to do their work.
“An area the general public can’t access, because it’s not just about the physical risk per say, but there’s also [the Personal Health Information Protection Act], there’s privacy issues, and confidential patient information that’s being managed in that situation where a paramedic is doing paperwork,” she says.
Since the incident, Osmond-Jones says hospital officials have committed to no longer using the room for anything other than paramedic work.
“But I don’t know if it’s been secured and [the public] can’t get in,” she says.
The Express reached out to the Durham Region Health Department regarding the assault, but spokesperson Glendene Collins said since the incident is currently under investigation they cannot comment.
However, a statement from the department was put on social media, which reads, “Durham Region Health Department stresses that the health and safety of our paramedics and all regional staff is a top priority, and abuse or assault of our paramedics in any setting will not be tolerated. Paramedic Services will fully cooperate with any subsequent investigation regarding this incident.”
Despite her concerns, Osmond-Jones adds she is pleased by the response from all parties to the event.