All eyes are on us

By Irene Andress, Chief Nurse Executive
I still get flashbacks.
When I was a fledgling nurse, just out of school, I did a placement at a long-term care home. The morning started like any other and I was assigned to help a patient with their morning hygiene. Everything was in place, including a steel wash basin at his bedside table.
Then it happened.
I don’t know what I said or what I did, but I vaguely remember seeing a flash of silver coming down toward my head. I ducked out of the way. Just in the nick of time.
My patient had tried to hurt me with that heavy washbasin.
It’s a memory I’ve tried to forget over the years. And for many reasons I didn’t tell anyone. I was scared and embarrassed. I had no one to tell. But recently, as we prepared TEGH nurses to be part of a print feature in the Toronto Star (that’s scheduled to be in print on Saturday) and a national documentary on workplace violence that’s set to air this Saturday on Global TV’s 16X9, I was forced to confront my past.
Did you know that, according to the stats, compared to police and firefighters, health care providers, particularly nurses, have a higher risk of being assaulted at work? I’ve spoken to many nurses as they described being choked, hair pulled and tackled to the ground. Has it always been like this? Like me, have we hidden this reality?
Today, I’m proud to be a nurse at TEGH. We have a zero tolerance for any form of violence and we encourage staff to speak out and report it.
We’re a national and provincial leader in the prevention of workplace violence.
In partnership with our union leaders from ONA, we’ve implemented a comprehensive violence prevention program that includes extensive hands on training for staff and patient flagging. Part of our successful workplace violence prevention rests in the capable hands of our security team.
And I saw this firsthand as I shadowed Ortney Brown, security agent. Our security agents are valued and appreciated constantly by the staff of TEGH. Their expertise, communication and responsiveness is outstanding.
On behalf of nurses and the staff at TEGH, thank you!
Spending time with Ortney was a privilege. In his quiet, yet confident way, he continually reminded me of the importance of teamwork, caring for each other and taking a stand for the kind of community we want to work in.
We all have a role to play in living our values… of being excellent in what we do, of caring for each other and our community and of respecting our workplace and our colleagues.
Join me on Twitter @IreneAndress

Irene Andress, CNE, shadows security agent Ortney Brown. Watch now!

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