Nurses, hospital staff take concerns over privatized security to police and city hall

News release

Vancouver Police Board, September 17, 3:30 pm Vancouver Council City Services & Budget Committee, September 18, 9:30 am

Mounting anxieties about the impending privatization of security services at Vancouver’s two largest hospitals have prompted a committee of health care workers from the B.C. Nurses’ Union, the Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE) and the Health Sciences Association to take their concerns to City Hall and the Vancouver Police Board.

Last month’s decision by Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and Providence Health Care to replace the in-house security forces at St. Paul’s Hospital and Vancouver General Hospital with private contract companies has raised alarm bells throughout the two facilities from staff who fear for their own safety, as well as the safety of patients and the visiting public.

Vancouver Police Board

Wednesday, Sept. 17 3:30 pm Main Vancouver Public Library 350 West Georgia Street Alma Van Dusen Room

Vancouver City Council City Services and Budget Standing Committee

Thursday, September 18 9:30 am 453 West 12th Avenue Committee Room #1

“Eliminating an experienced security force and replacing it with low-waged, contracted-out security guards is not appropriate when you are dealing with the kinds of crisis situations that emerge in our large urban hospitals,” says St. Paul’s security supervisor Roger Kishi. “We anticipate unacceptable delays in response times, and if private guards can’t handle a situation, more calls to police and other protective services.”

Those concerns are echoed by nurses Tonya McLaughlin and Charline Hooper who believe the move to private security will create a more dangerous working environment for hospital staff.

“The violence and aggression we face as nurses is most likely to come from patients requiring medical care or psychiatric treatment,” explains McLaughlin. “These situations demand that an experienced security officer be able to respond as an integral member of the hospital team.”

Hooper says most people don’t realize that health care workers experience more acts of force and violence than any other profession — including police. “Surely it’s not too much to expect that we receive the quality, experienced security support we need to be safe on the job.”

The group wants city hall and the police to be aware of the impact privatized security is likely to have on protective services and to consider ways to monitor the situation in terms of increased demands on police and off-loaded costs to the municipality.

-30- For more information contact: Patty Gibson, HEU communications officer, (604) 456-7007 (direct); (604) 328-7393 (cell) Shirley Ross, BCNU communications officer, (604)-433-2268 (office); (604) 209-4258 (cell)