Kamloops Mounties are investigating after a nurse at Royal Inland Hospital said she was assaulted by a patient in the emergency room, with the patient also accused of uttering a racist remark to the nurse.
Arlene Tedjo told CTV she was working in the emergency department on Saturday, Aug. 6, when police were called due to the behaviour of the man.
Tedjo told CTV she woke up the unresponsive patient and, shortly thereafter, she walked by the man.
"That individual purposely waited until I was walking past to kick my leg with the intent of tripping me," Tedjo told CTV, noting the man almost struck a co-worker.
"I stumbled and then he said to me, 'I don't know how they do things in your country' — implying, first, that I'm not from this country and being racist towards my level of education and professionalism.”
Tedjo said she was angry and insulted.
“Because firstly, I am Canadian and I am trained as a Canadian nurse,” she told CTV. “It should not matter if I was born here or not."
The man was arrested and later released from custody with a future court date.
Interior Health told KTW via email staff members received support on site and finished their shifts.
“Procedures are in place to respond to such incidents and follow-up is ongoing,” Interior Health told KTW.
According to IH, its procedures for managing disrespectful, aggressive or violent behaviours of visitors were followed by staff in this instance and resulted in the resolution of this incident.
Kamloops RCMP spokesperson Crystal Evelyn told KTW police were called to the hospital just before noon on Saturday for a report of a man who had allegedly assaulted two employees at Royal Inland Hospital. Police located a suspect outside the hospital and arrested him. He was lodged in police holding cells and later released on conditions and a court date pending the conclusion of a police investigation and subsequent charge approval.
Tedjo added that the incident is another example of myriad issues impacting the health-care system, noting the ER at RIH had a little more than half the staff required working this past weekend.
With the nursing and doctor shortage in B.C., emergency rooms are busier with patients seeking care.
In response to questions from this newspaper regarding whether IH has any plans to address security and staffing shortages at RIH in response to this incident, the health authority replied with a statement.
"Our thoughts are with our staff members and the IH ED [emergency department] team, as these incidents impact everyone at the site," the statement read. "We are proud of how the team worked together to respond to this unfortunate incident. We know that our nurses, physicians and staff deserve to go home safely at the end of a shift, just as those with illness have the right to health care. How we do that, in a way that respects the safety and well-being of all individuals, is the challenge, and we will continue to use and explore evidence based practices to provide safe medical care."
—This story was updated with comments from RCMP spokesperson Crystal Evelyn and Interior Health