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ONA questions safety at Guelph General Hospital after shooting

The Ontario Nurses' Association is questioning the safety record of Guelph General Hospital after a man was fatally shot by two police officers who opened fire in the hospital's emergency room on Wednesday.

Questions raised after police fatal shoot man in hospital emergency department

Guelph General Hospital is offering free counselling to anyone who witnessed the fatal police shooting in the hospitals Emergency Room. (Sam Blayney)

The Ontario Nurses' Association is questioning the safety record of Guelph General Hospital after a man was fatally shot by two police officers who opened fire in the hospital's emergency room on Wednesday.

According to Ontario's Special Investigations Unit, the 36-year-old man sustained multiple gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead at hospital. The SIU says a postmortem was completed on Thursday in Hamilton.

Police are not saying what prompted the shots, but ONA president Linda Haslam-Stroud said the incident illustrates a growing trend.

"There has been ongoing discussion with this employer because of escalating violence in the Guelph hospital and we have not been successful to this date in having an anti-violence strategy implemented." 

Haslam-Stroud said the hospital has not responded to recommendations that were made by its own joint health and safety committee in January. However Rod Carroll, the hospital's vice president of human resources, provided CBC News with an email that was sent in February, which shows the hospital's responds to those concerns.

Even with the response, some ONA members feel it's not enough. 

"I won't lie, we need to do more in that regard and we will." - Eileen Bain, Guelph General Hospital

"It's my understanding that even after recommendations were put forward by their safety committee, that the measure that they put in place was to train the security guards for 3.5 hours of training, something to that effect," said Erna Bujna, the workplace violence lead for the ONA, in an interview with Craig Norris on The Morning Edition Friday.

Bujna said that this training pales in comparison to the 40 hours of extensive training Toronto East General Hospital security guards get, and held that hospital up as a model for violence prevention. 

"Across the province, most of our nurses are not prepared. The training that they get is a lot of online training that's expected to be taken during working hours in many cases. It's not the hands-on type of training to properly de-escalate [a situation]."

Bujna wants the hospital to use panic alarms: wearable devices with a GPS that nurses can use to call for security.

"Even if you're being strangled–and that happens a lot in health care–they can locate that person, and usually arrive in under a minute. That's the difference between life and death," Bujna said.

Guelph General responds

The hospital's chief nursing executive Eileen Bain said the hospital does take the safety and security of its nurses seriously, but that the shooting on Wednesday couldn't have been anticipated. 

"It was a situation that was unexpected. It was a situation that was ultimately very tragic," Bain said, adding that, before the shooting, the hospital had one security guard during the day, two during the evening and two at night.

​"We have increased our security presence, we are working to look at what kind of skill set the guards need to have," she said in an interview with Craig Norris on The Morning Edition Friday. "We have already bolstered the education that our guards have in terms of how to manage a patient, how to restrain a patient, how to work with our staff."

But even Bain said the hospital needs to work on improving security and has hired consultants to conduct an external review of its emergency mental health services, which is expected to be completed in August. 

Bain said she spoke with Haslam-Stroud on Thursday and said that management at Guelph General is willing to work with the ONA to improve safety in the hospital.

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