Nurse suffers eye injury in assault at Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Ontario's Ministry of Labour is investigating after a nurse was badly beaten by a patient at Toronto's Centre for Mental Health and Addiction on the weekend.

Nurse was punched in the face, dragged to a utility room and kicked in the head

A nurse suffered an eye injury after a severe beating by a male patient at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health on the weekend.

Ontario's Ministry of Labour is investigating after a nurse was severely beaten by a patient at Toronto's Centre for Mental Health and Addiction on the weekend.

Vicki McKenna, first vice-president of the Ontario Nurses' Association, said the registered nurse was assaulted as she left a room early Sunday. A male patient punched her in the face, dragged her down a hallway to a locked utility room and repeatedly kicked her in the head. 

The nurse suffered damage to her optic nerve, facial fractures and multiple bruises. A co-worker who witnessed part of the assault called for help and the nurse was pulled away from her attacker. She was taken to the hospital. 

Toronto police said they were called to the scene at 1:42 a.m. on Sunday.

Const. Victor Kwong, spokesperson for Toronto police, said CAMH security took the suspect to another floor. Police arrested and charged him with assault.

The ministry said in a statement that the nurse suffered an eye injury. A ministry inspector went to the scene to investigate on Monday after the employer had secured the scene.

The ministry has issued four requirements to CAMH for documentation. An investigation is underway.

McKenna said the nurse is recovering but is shaken.

"She is shocked. She is, of course, very upset about what happened to her and what has occurred in her workplace," she said. "I just feel sick about what has happened."

McKenna said CAMH failed to notify the ministry immediately and she believes senior management at the hospital should be held personally accountable for the incident. She said CAMH has not been taking part in committees set up by the province to improve workplace safety.

"The nurses don't believe they are staffed properly to properly assist their patients," she said.

McKenna said the association receives daily reports of nurses being assaulted in hospitals, long-term care homes and in the community and it has been working with employers to find strategies to improve worker safety at health care facilities. 

She said there has been some improvement but employers are not taking threats to workplace safety seriously enough.

"I don't know what it's going to take for there to be rapid action and action so that people aren't hurt when they go to work. That's what we are so afraid of."

Rani Srivastava, chief of nursing and professional practice at CAMH, said the incident was "completely unexpected" and the centre is "saddened" and "shocked" by the incident.

"We have very ill clients," she said. "This was not a situation that we could have anticipated at all. It was completely unprovoked."

She said the centre is trying to determine what happened and what factors may have led to the incident. It is reviewing the incident.

"Any incident is one too many," she said.

CAMH fined earlier this year

CAMH was fined $80,000 in July for failing to protect two of its staff. 

In that incident, a CAMH nurse suffered a fractured eye socket, contusions to the face and head and injuries to her wrist and back when a patient repeatedly kicked her in the head in January 2014. The nurse couldn't activate the personal alarm she's required to wear; a colleague helped her escape.

According to the ministry, CAMH pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to protect two of its workers, laid under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

With files from Michelle Cheung