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‘This is very troubling:’ Large spike in Code Whites called at Winnipeg hospitals

‘This is very troubling:’ Large spike in Code Whites called at Winnipeg hospitals
WATCH: A 'Code White' is a violent or aggressive incident in the hospital or when staff feel threatened. Instances have grown at an alarming rate.

Threats, violent assaults and meth-induced psychosis.

They are just a handful of issues nurses, staff and security guards are dealing with at Winnipeg hospitals, but the number of times it happens a month is skyrocketing.

New numbers obtained by Global News, through a Freedom of Information request, show a shocking rise in the number of ‘Code Whites’ called at three hospitals in the city.

READ MORE: Nurse punched in the face by man believed high on meth, says Manitoba Nurses Union

A ‘Code White‘ is called when there is a violent or aggressive incident in the hospital or when a staff member feels they need to call for help.

“There’s been a spike both in the number of violent incidents and the incidents themselves are becoming more threatening,” MGEU Director of Internal Operations Jean-Guy Bourgeois said.

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Year over year, the numbers are up across the board at the Health Sciences Centre, Victoria General Hospital and Grace Hospital.

In 2018, code whites quadrupled for a handful of months, compared to the previous year.

“This is very troubling, but again, it’s not news to people working on the front lines,” Bourgeois said. “It’s what they’ve been seeing day in day out. They’re worried. They’re concerned.”

The number of ‘Code Whites’ or calls for potentially aggressive and violent behaviour, are increasing at Winnipeg hospitals.
The number of ‘Code Whites’ or calls for potentially aggressive and violent behaviour, are increasing at Winnipeg hospitals.

In January, there were 60 calls at HSC, nearly double the same month from 2018.

December was particularly bad at HSC with four times the number of calls in 2018 over 2017.

“Of course we’re concerned with them and we have seen an increase in them,” Winnipeg Regional Health Authority Krista Williams told Global News. “We’re monitoring it closely at the site level and the regional level to look at what other strategies can we do for safe work place for all.”

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While there has been increases in the times these codes are called, the WRHA also admitted there has been an increase in the number of injuries as well.

“I think none of us are satisfied with having any violence or aggression in our facilities, but in health care it’s a reality,” Williams said.

Weapons are also sometimes being used against workers inside these facilities, she added.

“An individual could bring in a pair of pliers, a knife… there’s many different things,” Williams said. “We don’t want to wait until a situation where there is aggression and harm before they call a Code White.”

While the WRHA said the numbers can look surprising at first glance, there could also have been multiple calls for one incident.

The WRHA said it has already taken some steps to increase security around certain facilities and is in the process of a full security review which could bring more changes depending on its results.