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Waypoint mental health workers need security guards on wards

Penetanguishene – The Ontario Public Service Employees Union is demanding that Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care immediately hire security personnel on all wards to prevent more violence against workers.

Waypoint’s provincial forensic division is home to many patients who have committed serious crimes but have been found not criminally responsible or unfit to stand trial by the courts.

“Right now, registered nurses and registered practical nurses at Waypoint provide security,” said OPSEU Local 329 President, Pete Sheehan.  “When there is an incident that involves a patient attack, it’s our nurses who intervene.  We have been trained as caregivers, we’re not trained as security guards.  If management hired security, our members wouldn’t have to go to work fearing for their lives.”

For a second week, OPSEU is running radio ads on Rock 95 in Barrie and KICX 106 in Orillia to raise awareness about the dangers Waypoint workers face.  A new video will be available on OPSEU’s website, and a full-page ad will also appear in the Midland Mirror this week.   

Providing dedicated security personnel would help prevent violence and reduce the severity of injuries to workers, but it would also benefit patients.

“Asking nurses to do double-duty as security personnel runs contrary to the philosophy that there should be a therapeutic relationship between patient and caregiver,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.  “If a nurse is supposed to provide care one minute, and then restrain a patient the next, that therapeutic relationship is threatened.”

“Management needs to provide better protection for these workers.  Hiring security staff is a small price to pay when you realize it could save someone’s life.”

For more information:  Pete Sheehan, 705-209-9050

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