Increased security efforts inside the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre seem to be paying dividends.
Hospital officials brought in Thunder Bay Police Service police officers in July 2022 on the heels of an uptick in violence against staff in the emergency department.
Between April and June of 2022 there were 80 such incidents recorded. For the same time period in 2023, the number has dropped to 10.
While that represents a significant decrease, hospital president and CEO Rhonda Crocker Ellacott feels the latest data is not reason to celebrate.
“Ten is too many, one is too many,” Crocker Ellacott said.
“There has been a 90 per cent reduction but nobody comes to work expecting to be worried about being worrying about being struck, for example. We will continue on these efforts to get to zero. [We will also work] hard to change things to have staff feel comfortable and supported at work, and ensure that there is just zero tolerance for any type of violent incident in the department and in the hospital.”
The hospital is also utilizing security guards in the efforts.
Crocker Ellacott has heard from staff, and they have a strong message for her when it comes to the future of having police officers in the facility.
“The biggest thing I hear is please don’t take any of this away. We need to continue to see that support there. And we are spending a significant amount of dollars on this,” she said.
“It’s money that I’d like to be spending in a different way on front line health care, but it’s something that you can’t apologize for in terms of trying to create a safe environment where our staff are supported, our staff are safe and patients and families are also safe.”
Crocker Ellacott confirmed more than $1 million is being spent on the initiative.
Earlier estimates indicated that it costs the hospital $2,045 per shift, or approximately $60,000 a month, if police officers fill all shifts.
The cost fluctuates depending on need, resource availability and security staffing.