City Hospital Security scare

Tuesday February 18, 2020

Published by The Border Watch

By Sandra Morello
SECURITY ALARM: Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell has renewed calls for greater security measures at Mount Gambier Hospital. Picture: SANDRA MORELLO
Alarm triggered as politicians call for action following emergency department fight THE TOUGHEST SECURITY

A security scare at Mount Gambier Hospital’s emergency department has again triggered alarm over the lack of designated security personnel at the site. According to a witness, staff struggled to de-escalate a violent incident in the busy emergency department earlier this month. It is understood a fight erupted between two people, which resulted in a trail of blood across the department.

While health authorities have reassured the public no staff or patients were injured, two politicians have called for action from the State Government.

A shortfall in security measures at Mount Gambier Hospital has again hit the spotlight amid reports of a “bloody” violencefuelled incident at the public health facility.

According to an eyewitness whose daughter was being treated in the facility’s emergency department, no specific security personnel were called to the incident and medical staff struggled to contain the volatile situation.

The woman - who wants to maintain her anonymity - described the incident as “frightening” and claimed the highly-agitated man left a trail of blood across the emergency department. This included blood smears on a glass door leading into the children’s ward.

The incident - which allegedly occurred earlier this month - has triggered Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell and Shadow Health Minister Chris Picton to renew their call for greater security measures at the hospital.

Despite dozens of code black incidents in recent years, the government has yet to give the green light to designated security personnel being stationed at the emergency department.

More than 20,000 people flow through the emergency department each year.

Limestone Coast Local Health Network chief executive officer Ngaire Buchanan said Managing Actual and Potential Aggression training had now been rolled out to all frontline staff in the region.

She said this training aimed to help staff de-escalate any threats to themselves, patients or colleagues.

“The safety of both staff and patients at Mount Gambier Hospital is our first priority and any acts of intentional violence and aggression within our hospital are not tolerated,” Ms Buchanan said in a statement yesterday.

“A site security review has recently been conducted, which included looking at best practice approach for swipe card access, security cameras, duress alarms, code black procedure, police contacts, car park lighting, secured nurses’ stations and perimeter fencing.”

She said the health network was also involved in the recently formed statewide steering group, which brought together representatives from each Local Health Network, South Australia Ambulance Service and South Australia Police, to focus on improving safety across the entire network.

In regards to the incident on February 7, the hospital confirmed a code black was called.

According to information provided, trained staff and SAPOL attended and no staff or patients were injured.

But Mr Bell said more action was needed to protect staff and patients.

He revealed he recently raised this “ongoing issue” with the Limestone Coast Local Health Network.

“They assured me they were looking into it,” the independent politician said.

If additional money was needed to provide security personnel, Mr Bell said the Liberal State Government must “step up”.

Mr Bell said it was “paramount” there were adequate security measures to ensure the safety of the workforce and patients.

Meanwhile, Mr Picton called on the State Government to take immediate action.

“A report of another major security incident at Mount Gambier Hospital is extremely concerning for patients and staff,” Mr Picton said.

“The Marshall Government has been sitting on an audit of security at regional hospitals which they refuse to release and have not acted upon.”

Mr Picton said the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation had proposed a joint plan to address safety for hospital staff but the Liberal Government has refused to work with them.

“With this inaction there will sadly be more and more incidents occurring,” he said.

“The Liberals have broken their promise they would look after the South East. The Minister seems much more focused on what happens in Adelaide than in Mount Gambier.”

He said it appeared the cases coming to the Mount Gambier emergency department were getting more serious and more action was needed to protect patients and staff.

According to information supplied to The Border Watch from the public, a man and woman were involved in a fight on February 7 at around 6pm.

It is alleged the man was hit in the face, which resulted in a large “three-inch gash to his face and profuse bleeding”.

“A code black was called, but no security personnel arrived,” the concerned eyewitness told The Border Watch yesterday.

“There was a trail of blood from the Bay Five to the children’s ward door - there was blood everywhere, you do not know what diseases they may have.”

She revealed a senior nurse and a medical professional tried to “deescalate the situation” given the man was running around bleeding.

“They tried to calm him down but he was quite aggressive,” the concerned resident said.

She said people - who were in emergency department bays - were escorted to the waiting room as a precaution.

The resident said there were children and elderly people in the busy emergency department at the time.

The eyewitness said police arrived at the scene after a period of time.