A hospital in southern Ontario is trying to strike a balance between heightened security measures and a healthy environment after one mental health patient stabbed another inside the facility.
Windsor Regional Hospital, in Windsor, Ont., has decided to bring in hand-held metal detectors in response to the attack, but CEO Davis Musyj noted that their introduction, as well as other security measures, is a complicated issue.
The stabbing took place last weekend as a 17-year-old mental health patient returned to the hospital after visiting his family on a day pass. The teenager stabbed a 26-year-old mental health patient in a hallway near reception, the hospital has said, noting that the patient who was stabbed was in stable condition. Local police have said a 17-year-old has been charged with aggravated assault.
The hospital already has a security checkpoint at its mental health ward, but Musyj said the attack took place in one of the hospital’s general hallways, before the teen patient had to undergo his security screening.
Currently, the hospital’s decision to use hand-held metal detectors is limited to the security checkpoint at the mental health ward, which means they wouldn’t have stopped the stabbing if they were already in use.
Musyj said the hospital is looking into whether it should use the metal detectors at an earlier location, but said too much security could have a negative impact on a mental health patient’s state.
“There are certain patients where requiring them to check in with security outside of the hospital doors might not help them with their rehabilitation effort,” said Musyj. “It won’t help promote it, they’ll wonder ‘why am I being treated like this.'”
Musyj said the hospital has held a meeting with around 50 staff members to try and figure out the best way to improve security without having any negative outcome for their patients.
Windsor Regional Hospital’s current security measures include a checkpoint at the mental health ward where patients’ belongings are put into lockers, the physical presence of security guards in the hospital and privately-hired drug sniffing dogs that are brought into the ward at random intervals to prevent visitors from bringing in drugs.
Musyj said the hospital will be looking at the practices of other mental health wards and will consult with security experts to determine how best to reduce the risk of an attack, whilst not causing issues for their patients.
The Ontario Hospital Association, an organization that collaborates with 145 hospitals in Ontario, said they take the issue of violence in hospitals “very seriously.”
“Each hospital faces its own challenges with respect to safety and will take action to address these issues in a manner that is customized and most appropriate for that organization,” said spokeswoman Shabnum Durrani.