Waypoint must consider patients to improve worker safety: OPSEU video

Penetanguishene – The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) has released a new video calling for improved worker safety measures at Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care, that take the environment and patients into consideration.

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The provincial forensic division at Waypoint is a maximum security facility for patients who are found unfit to stand trial or not criminally responsible by the courts.  There have been a number of incidents of patients attacking staff at the facility in recent months – some resulting in serious injury.

“A staff member was assaulted by a patient in the dining area and he was knocked unconscious,” says a Waypoint worker in the fifth video in OPSEU’s series, Through the shadows.  “[He suffered] broken bones and lost teeth.  During that restraint, another staff member had a chunk literally taken out of his arm.”

Caregivers at Waypoint say many dangers they face at work could be mitigated if management implemented increased security measures.  Those measures include installing walk-through metal detectors and hiring security personnel on all the wards.

Waypoint’s provincial forensic division was built as a general hospital.  Patient rooms were constructed using drywall, and the current safety provisions are not suitable for a maximum-security facility.   

“Yes we have sick people, and yes it is a hospital.  [But] it is a hospital for violent offenders.  It’s not a hospital for people having their gall bladders removed,” says the worker in the video.

“What we’re seeing at Waypoint is a blatant disregard for safety,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, who has worked in the mental health field for most of his adult life. “We need safety measures for these caregivers that take into account the unique circumstances of their environment." 

“We understand these patients are vulnerable and that they’ve been sent to Waypoint because they’re very ill.  But by not addressing these legitimate safety concerns, Waypoint is creating an environment where its employees are now also vulnerable,” added Thomas.  “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Waypoint needs to make some serious changes before someone gets killed.”

Click here for video

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