Coquitlam Forensic Psychiatric Hospital gets upgrades to combat violence against workers

. John Hua/Global News

The Provincial Health Services Authority has announced upgrades to improve staff safety at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam, after the BC Government and Services Employees’ Union (BCGEU) voiced concern earlier this month.

BCGEU president Stephanie Smith said it has been a long running concern for the union.

READ MORE: ‘Violent’ attack on Colony Farm psychiatric hospital staffer prompts call for body armour

“Our staff have been raising this as a concern for a number of years so we are cautiously optimistic seeing how this new plan is going to roll out and seeing its impact on patient-to-staff violence,” said Smith.

“Just since May we know of at least 22 reported assaults.”

She said a new five-step plan will include an increase in staff, extra training and the presence of security officers 24 hours a day.

Story continues below advertisement

Smith said the upgrades are greatly needed.

READ MORE: Union respresenting correctional officers calls for action after alleged assault

“Everybody should be able to go to work at the beginning of the day and everybody should go home to their families in the condition they left,” said Smith.

She said input from workers will be invited as the plan is rolled out.

In early September, BCGEU called on the B.C. government to make changes following a recent spike in assaults.

Smith said the plan, which includes more training for employees, will be implemented as soon as possible.

The facility commonly known as “Colony Farm” has 190 beds, and holds patients who suffer from mental illness and have been found not criminally responsible or unfit to stand trial.

The hospital nearly always operates at full capacity.