Nurse suffers broken jaw, head injuries after "ambush" at Abbotsford hospital

Sep 25 2019, 1:40 pm

The BC Nurses Union (BCNU) said a nurse in Abbotsford is “lucky to be alive” after what they describe as a “vicious” attack on her by a patient at Abbotsford Regional Hospital on Tuesday.

According to the BCNU, the incident took place in the”early morning,” when the nurse was “viciously attacked by a patient/perpetrator while on shift.”

A report from the union said the patient/perpetrator, allegedly 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.”

She is expected to undergo surgery today, as a result of the attack.

Both WorkSafeBC and police have sent investigators to ARH. The suspect was reportedly was taken into police custody on Tuesday and later returned to ARH for additional medical treatment.

He has since been charged with aggravated assault and the Crown recommends he remain in custody.

“I’m deeply troubled by this latest gruesome and excessively violent attack on one of our nurses,” said BCNU president Christine Sorensen. “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 the deteriorating conditions in ARH’s emergency department.

“It concerns me that this person was able to get his hands on a weapon and attack this nurse, who was there just doing her job and caring for patients,” Sorensen added.

“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,” the BCNU said in a statement.

Since 2017, BCNU has been running the campaign, ‘Violence. Not Part of the Job,’ which has successfully raised awareness about the systemic violence nurses experience on a daily basis.