A nurse was attacked in the Kelowna General Hospital emergency room on May 13. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

Vernon man arrested after nurse assaulted at Kelowna hospital’s COVID-19 screening desk

The incident occurred on May 13, just after 2 p.m.

This story was updated at 9:30 a.m. on May 15 with a comment from Interior Health.

The BC Nurses’ Union is demanding answers after a nurse at Kelowna General Hospital (KGH) was assaulted on May 13.

The union claims the nurse, working in the emergency department at the COVID-19 screening desk, was struck and verbally assaulted by an irate patient.

KGH is one of a few hospitals in the province that is supposed to provide security in the emergency room at all hours, part of a pilot project led by the nurses union and Interior Health in 2018.

Union president Christine Sorensen said in addition to the incident, she’s concerned the COVID-19 screening desk did not have a plexiglass shield installed.

“Not only did this nurse experience a traumatizing incident that left her with physical injuries; she is also working through a pandemic, on the frontlines, in a high-risk area, without the appropriate infection control measures in place,” said Sorensen.

“This screening desk is the first point of access to the emergency department. It’s unacceptable to think Interior Health would not take all of the necessary precautions to protect nurses and health care workers.”

In an emailed statement, Interior Health said when the incident occurred, a security officer intervened immediately.

“Interior Health takes all incidents of aggressive behaviour at our sites very seriously. Safety for patients, staff, physicians and the public is a key component to our ability to deliver health services,” read the statement.

“Keeping our health care staff safe at work in particular is a top priority and we are fully committed to continued focus on both physical and psychological safety in the workplace.

“There is a dedicated 24-hour security presence in the emergency department at Kelowna General Hospital. Additionally, as part of the pandemic response, staff members who interact directly with patients are all provided with appropriate personal protective equipment.”

A 37-year-old Vernon man has been arrested in relation to the incident.

The nurse suffered non-life threatening injuries. Mounties will refer reports to the BC Prosecution Service to determine if charges will be laid.

Anyone with any information about this crime can contact the Kelowna RCMP at 250-762-3300.

READ MORE: Kelowna cab driver accused of sexual assault has trial postponed due to COVID-19

READ MORE: Kelowna RCMP seek witnesses to a serious late-April crash along Highway 97


Daniel Taylor
Reporter, Kelowna Capital News
Email me at daniel.taylor@kelownacapnews.com
Follow me on Twitter

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