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McDonald’s investigating after viral video from Regina shows several needles inside bathroom

McDonald’s investigating after viral video from Regina shows several needles inside bathroom
WATCH: It's a disturbing video, shared thousands of times, depicting a troubling scene inside a Regina McDonald's bathroom where several needles were found. Katelyn Wilson has the story.

A video taken inside the bathroom of a McDonald’s in Regina’s North Central neighbourhood is currently circulating on social media and raising a number of questions regarding the health and safety of its customers.

The video shows numerous needles on the floor and counter, including one needle filled with what appears to be blood.

Viral video shows several needles inside bathroom at Regina McDonald’s
Viral video shows several needles inside bathroom at Regina McDonald’s

Neesha Wolfe said she took the video around 10 p.m. Saturday when she stopped at the McDonald’s near Dewdney Avenue and Albert Street for something to eat.

READ MORE: Sask. distributing safe inhalation supplies to drug users in an effort to reduce HIV

“I walked into the bathroom and I was in shock — I didn’t even wait for my order, I just left,” Wolfe said.

“I had three kids in the car. Imagine if they needed to use the bathroom.”

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Wolfe said there were other kids in the restaurant — ones who needed to use the facilities.

“There was one woman in there with her kids, and they were about to use the washroom. I told the mom that her kids didn’t need to see what was in there. What if they went in there and saw that?” Wolfe said.

READ MORE: Neighbours of Edmonton’s newest supervised consumption site hope it means fewer needles on street

Wolfe said she tried telling employees about the state of the washroom before leaving but said she didn’t get much response.

In light of the video, McDonald’s head office released the following statement:

“The experience and safety of guests and crew is McDonald’s top priority. We are aware of the video that was filmed at the Dewdney McDonald’s and can confirm that the restaurant is taking this situation very seriously. After being alerted about this troubling incident, the restaurant immediately followed procedures to clean and sanitize the washroom.”

McDonald’s head office said the restaurant has launched an investigation and are in contact with police. The Saskatchewan Health Authority is also looking into the matter, calling it an act of vandalism.

A health inspector was sent to the location on Monday morning and said it appears someone pried open a needle disposal bin that’s stationed in that washroom and is emptied on a monthly basis.

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“Since our visit there this morning, we understand they’re going to increase [the pick-up] to every two weeks and are going to look at installing a more tamper resistant box,” Saskatchewan Health Authority environmental public health acting manager, Ian Harrison said.

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In a second statement issued Monday afternoon, McDonald’s head office said:

“It appears that a guest used a strong object to force open the needle disposal bin – which is locked and encased in stainless steel.  This is an unfortunate, yet isolated incident. It was quickly identified and cleaned up adhering to the restaurant’s safe and proper process for handling needles. The restaurant has been in contact with the police, and the Saskatchewan Health Department visited the restaurant today and reported that they are satisfied with how the incident was handled and will not be investigating further. The boxes are managed by a company called Biomed and the restaurant will work with them to look into how this can be prevented in the future.”

Although the motive isn’t clear, police say based on experience it could be the person was looking to re-use an old syringe. Police add, they’re working on trying to identify a potential suspect and under other circumstances, having a sharps bin in the washroom would be regarded as a proactive way to prevent other users of the space from being exposed to a potential health hazard.

READ MORE: Safe injection site approved for Lethbridge, set to open in 2018

Carmichael Outreach said the video highlights a need for awareness and it’s not uncommon to find needles in public places.

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“I think there needs to be more locations for drop off and more awareness and I think we really need to work as a society on the stigma of addiction and realize this is an illness,” executive director Cora Gajari said.

While Sask Health said there is no risk to public safety, Wolfe said she’ll think twice before stopping at that location again.