String of suspicious persons reports at Halifax hospitals result in security changes

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The Nova Scotia Health Authority is looking to make changes to its security
Staff at the QEII repeatedly found a man in different areas of the hospital, wearing hospital scrubs or inside patient rooms. Sarah Ritchie reports – May 24, 2019

A man who was repeatedly found in different areas of Halifax hospitals – sometimes wearing hospital scrubs and inside patient rooms – has raised some serious concerns about security protocols.

Shannon David McInnis, 49, was arrested at QEII Health Sciences Centre on March 31 with allegedly stolen property. He’s facing a long list of charges, which include committing an indecent act and theft.

READ MORE: Man facing indecent act, theft charges after multiple trespassing incidents at Halifax hospital

Security reports obtained by Global News through Freedom of Information and court documents paint a disturbing picture of suspicious activity in the hospital.

McInnis was a frequent visitor to the Victoria General and Halifax Infirmary sites.

On March 22, there were two reports of a suspicious person in the Centennial Building late at night. The first was reported at around 11 p.m. Security received a call from nursing staff on the third floor of the unit, indicating there was a suspicious person asking for a bed to sleep in.

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By the time security got a description of the person and checked all the floors, the individual couldn’t be found. They gave the “all clear” at 11:25 p.m.

But just over 25 minutes later, a suspicious person was seen dressed in scrubs and a lab coat on another floor. Security searches turned up nothing until an hour later – at 12:40 a.m. on March 23 – when McInnis was arrested.

Sources tell Global News he entered a patient’s room, impersonating a doctor. Court documents reveal that McInnis allegedly masturbated in front of another person at the hospital that day.

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Police searched McInnis and informed security they would be “returning the items to the hospital” and that “the medication was returned … at approximately 3:23 a.m.” He’s charged with theft and possession of stolen property.

He was released the next day on the condition he not return to the hospital unless in need of medical attention.

WATCH: Trespassing memo issued to NSHA employees days after arrest

Click to play video: 'Trespassing memo issued to NSHA employees days after arrest'
Trespassing memo issued to NSHA employees days after arrest

But just four days later, McInnis was believed to have been seen at the Victoria General again.

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The security report indicates he left behind a backpack containing a knife and marijuana in one of the family rooms. Security was able to confirm it was McInnis but was not able to locate him. They searched the building for 20 minutes before giving the all clear.

Then in the early morning hours of March 29, a suspicious person was seen in the Dickson Centre wearing scrubs. Again, security conducted a building search and was unable to find anyone.

McInnis was arrested in the hospital for a second time on March 31, but details of the arrest were not provided in the FOI request. Court documents show he’s been charged with committing an indecent act at the hospital on March 4, but security did not have any record of that incident, according to the documents released to Global News.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia Health Authority staff receive trespassing warning — days after arrest

The union representing nurses at the QEII says it’s all cause for concern.

“I am concerned for staff and for the public,” said Kim Jenkins, second vice-president of the Nova Scotia General Employees Union.

“I would hope that the employer would look at the current practices and make sure that those gaps aren’t there.”

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Incidents result in security changes 

The Nova Scotia Health Authority says it’s not uncommon for the city’s homeless to seek shelter inside the hospital during the winter months, but this sequence of incidents was particularly concerning.

“It was nothing that I’m aware has ever happened before, where an individual has come into our buildings so many times,” said Sean Feeney, central zone manager of facility support for the health authority.

Feeney says gaps have been identified and there’s now better communication between security at the different hospital locations. The documents suggest McInnis had been issued a Protection of Property Act notice at the Infirmary on March 17, but that information wasn’t immediately available to security staff at the Victoria General. Feeney says security now has access to real-time information on those notices, which ban people from hospital property.

Feeney says all hospital staff have been given a refresher on security protocols, doors have been checked over, and hourly patrols have been stepped up.

“We’ve found that that has been very effective to ensure that we’re not finding people in common areas,” he said.

Staff, including nurses, are supposed to report incidents through a hotline, according to Feeney.

“A lot of times there wasn’t time in order to get the information but that is something we’ve corrected as well.”

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McInnis hasn’t been seen at the hospital since.

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