Man arrested for assault of Kelowna health-care worker

A health-care worker was allegedly attacked by a 37-year-old Vernon man at Kelowna General Hospital. Klaudia Van Emmerik / Global News

A suspect has been arrested for the assault of a health-care worker inside Kelowna General Hospital, according to police.

RCMP said they were called to the hospital just after 2 p.m., on Wednesday for a report of an assault.

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“The emergency room nurse was allegedly struck in the arm by the man who had come to the hospital for treatment,” Cpl. Jocelyn Noseworthy said in a news release. “The suspect was restrained by security personnel until police arrived.”

A 37-year-old Vernon man was arrested by police but has since been released for a future court date.

RCMP said the victim suffered non-life-threatening injuries as a result of the assault.

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Police said they are referring the matter to the BC Prosecution Service for charge assessment.

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On Thursday afternoon, the B.C. Nurses’ Union issued a statement on the assault, saying the incident has raised serious questions and that answers are needed.

“[Kelowna General Hospital] is one of a handful of hospitals in the province that is supposed to provide 24/7 security in the ER, part of a joint pilot project lead by BCNU and Interior Health in 2018 that focused on protecting nurses from violence in the workplace,” said the union.

Union president Christine Sorensen noted that the screening desk where the nurse worked wasn’t retrofitted with a plexiglass shield, as now commonly seen in grocery and convenience stores.

“Not only did this nurse experience a traumatizing incident that left her with physical injuries, she is also working through a pandemic, on the frontlines, in a high-risk area, without the appropriate infection control measures in place,” said Sorensen.

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“This screening desk is the first point of access to the emergency department. It’s unacceptable to think Interior Health would not take all of the necessary precautions to protect nurses and health care workers.”

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