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Red Deer doctors working to make safety changes following shocking killing of physician

Click to play video: 'Community gathers to remember slain Red Deer doctor' Community gathers to remember slain Red Deer doctor
(Aug. 15) A vigil was held in Red Deer on Friday night to pay tribute to a doctor who was brutally killed at the walk-in clinic he worked at. Sarah Komadina reports – Aug 15, 2020

A central Alberta doctor says some clinics have stopped allowing patients to carry bags and backpacks since a family doctor was killed on the job last month.

Dr. Walter Reynolds, a 45-year-old father of two, was attacked by a patient wielding a weapon at a walk-in clinic in Red Deer, Alta., on Aug. 10. Deng Mabiour has been charged with first-degree murder. He is to appear in court this week.

Dr. Peter Bouch, who knew Reynolds, says members of the Red Deer Primary Care Network have set up a committee to work with Alberta Health Services and Occupational Health and Safety in an effort to make clinics safer.

Read more: Red Deer doctor remembered, police say he was killed in a targeted attack

Some clinics, he says, are already asking patients to leave their bags at the front desk and, going forward, there need to be standards for how to manage difficult patients who might be demanding, aggressive or suffering from mental illness.

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“There’s no way we can completely stop an event like what happened,” Bouch told The Canadian Press.

“Even though this was a rare thing physicians and their staff are vulnerable every single day.”

Bouch said the committee is to met with professionals that have expertise in workplace safety. He hopes there will be a list of general recommendations within the next six months.

Read more: Man accused of killing Alberta doctor tells court he doesn’t remember, is sick

The president of the Alberta Medical Association says Reynolds’s death highlights the need for changes to make the profession safer across Canada.

“The horrific attack on Dr. Reynolds has highlighted the issue of safety in physician offices and other practice settings. It’s essential that physicians, staff and patients are safeguarded. This is a large and complex issue that no single party can address on their own,” said Dr. Christine Molnar, a diagnostic radiologist and nuclear medicine specialist based in Calgary.

Click to play video: 'Red Deer medical community pays tribute to slain doctor as accused killer has 1st day in court' Red Deer medical community pays tribute to slain doctor as accused killer has 1st day in court
Red Deer medical community pays tribute to slain doctor as accused killer has 1st day in court – Aug 12, 2020

Molnar said the medical body’s healthy working environments advisory committee will discuss whether there’s an expanded role for the association in the area of safety and workplace violence.

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She said it’s not just a problem in Alberta.

“I have been speaking with the Canadian Medical Association and my counterparts at the provincial and territorial medical associations and there are concerns on a pan-Canadian basis regarding everything from physical security to psycho-social safety.”

Read more: Ribbons symbolizing solidarity worn to honour slain Red Deer family doctor

Alberta’s health minister has called Reynolds’s death a terrible loss. But Tyler Shandro stopped short of saying anything would be done by the government.

“Family physicians are part of the front line of health care. They put themselves at the service of every patient in need, but that should never mean being exposed to violence,”  Shandro said in an email.

“The RCMP have confirmed this was an isolated incident and indicates no increased risk to the people of Red Deer.”

Shandro suggests physicians or others with concerns about their security should contact the RCMP’s victim services division.

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