WATCH ABOVE: After a Regina nurse was beat up on the way to her vehicle after work, other nurses say a hospital parking crunch has become a matter of public safety
REGINA – It was late Wednesday night when Jennifer LeGard left her shift as a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Regina General Hospital.
Walking to her car, LeGard said a man shouted and followed her.
Then he turned violent.
“I laid on my horn and started to scream. Then he punched me in the throat, punched my arm, punched my chest,” LeGard told Global News, saying her assailant left when a woman driving by stopped to help.
“I’m not even five feet tall. I felt, ‘I can’t fight, I know I can’t.’ (But) I have a little boy I need to get myself home to,” she said.
LeGard feels the attack may not have happened if there wasn’t a parking crunch at the General. Many hospital staff must park several blocks away because there just aren’t enough stalls for everyone.
“I’m not the first person and I’m not going to be the last.”
Colleagues say, at night, they often leave work in fear.
“Sometimes when you’re walking to your car or walking home, you can’t help looking behind you and wondering if that’s going to be you next,” said Danielle Doucette, a fellow NICU nurse. “We’re lucky nothing worse came of that. It’s really a wake up call.”
“These nurses need a safe way to get to and from work.”
Parking issues are nothing new at the General. Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region (RQHR) confirms there are just 800 stalls for staff, with a seven-to-eight year waiting list for a spot.
If staff don’t park blocks away, they risk a fine in a two-hour parking zone.
SOUND OFF: How would you improve parking & safety around Regina’s hospitals?
RQHR offers a shuttle services and rides from security personnel, but parking and security director Barry Stricker admits the options have their limitations. Hospital staff often work overtime and various shifts, while the shuttle service ends at 9:00 p.m. and security staff aren’t always available.
Stricker said RQHR will review the incident.
A parking structure has been discussed in the past, but the $30-million price tag attached has made it an unlikely initiative in the near future.
As for the neighbourhood, the Core Area has had 155 reported assaults this year – the second most in Regina, behind North Central.
A Regina Police spokesperson said Thursday there is no extra patroling in the neighbourhood.
Nurses believe the situation needs to be addressed sooner rather than later, so they can walk without looking over their shoulder.
“I’m not the first person and I’m not going to be the last,” LeGard said.
The suspect is described as a man between 25 and 30 years old with a dark complexion, 5 foot 8 inches tall, wearing a dark-coloured toque and jeans with a black and brown jacket.
Anyone with information is asked to call RPS at 306-777-6500 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.