By Don Norman
At 10:00am, Friday April 6th, an incident at the Pine Falls Hospital caused the facility to announce a “code white” that caused the hospital, the Clinic, the Emergency room and the Sunnywood Manor to be shut down.
When the Advocate went down to the facility on Friday, we found someone trying to get in for their dialysis treatments. It appeared that they were turned away.
Later that day, the IERHA issued a release explaining that members of their care team in Pine Falls Health Complex received threats to their safety and security. The release went on to state that all staff, physicians, residents and patients are safe and that RCMP had been on-site and investigated the threat.
The release stated, “To ensure the safety of our staff, residents and patients, Interlake-Eastern RHA has activated a Code White containment protocol in the Pine Falls Health Complex that includes the hospital, traditional healing centre and personal care home. All external doors have been locked with one point of entry and exit that is monitored by security personnel.” They also announced that no members of the public are being seen to provide health care services at Pine Falls hospital, clinic or lab. And that ambulances were being diverted to other emergency departments.
Patients were advised to visit physicians in Beausejour or Pinawa.
The containment ran until Tuesday at around noon. But as of press time, they were still diverting patients and ambulances from emergency to other hospitals in the region.
A “code white” is one of a number of colour codes used in hospitals to define certain emergency situations. Code white specifically means that it was an act of aggression or violence.
A spokesperson for the IERHA explained that the situation at the Pine Falls facility was not something that happened in the facility, it happened outside and the containment protocol was meant to make sure the people inside the facility were safe.
This is not the first code white at Pine Falls Hospital, the spokesperson said that as recently as March 21, “staff became aware that a person entering the facility was concealing a knife. RCMP were called and they attended.” But the spokesperson said that this “has been an exceptionally long period of service suspension due to a code white. The time was required for us to put in place the security measures that would ensure the safety of our staff.”
The representative wouldn’t say if drugs were a factor in the incident, “we have not made the nature of the threat public as it will compromise the safety and security of our staff,” they explained.
There had been some concerns raised in the community about how a violent incident like this might affect the morale of hospital staff and knowing how difficult it is to attract physicians, the concern was whether this might cause a staffing crisis if people quit as a result. But apparently that hasn’t been an issue thus far. “We are not aware of any staff who have resigned as a result of this incident,” said the spokesperson. “The same physicians who were here before the code white are all still working with us.”
The details are obviously still sketchy with an ongoing RCMP investigation, but keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates.