When we think about safety in our community, we don’t always think about the safety of our frontline health care workers.
Yet in recent years, we’ve seen nurses dealing with aggression from patients – sometimes, from seniors with severe dementia who don’t know what’s happening to them.
Nurses and doctors can also face the anger of family members who find themselves in an extremely stressful situation.
Even something as simple as lighting proves to be a problem for health care workers in Langley.
For several nights this spring, an electrical problem knocked out the lights meant to illuminate the parking lots at Langley Memorial Hospital.
Staff had to use phones or flashlights to pick their way through the darkened lots to find their cars when coming off or on to the night shift.
Understandably, they were worried that they might be easy prey for an attacker, or simply fall and hurt themselves.
Medicine doesn’t sleep, and many nurses and doctors in this province work on 12-hour shifts, two in the daytime, two at night. They get four days off and then they start the whole thing over again.
They do it because the job demands it of people. Patients have needs at all hours of the day and night. Patients can’t time their visits to the ER, and those in critical care need 24-hour monitoring.
Fraser Health says it has found the cause of the problem that knocked out the lights, and fixed it.
But in the meantime, it brings to light the fact that there were only a handful of security staff at Langley Memorial, and not surprisingly, they were busy with vital matters and often not available to escort staff through the dark parking lot.
Langley is not a small town anymore. We need security – whether in the form of adequate lighting, or in human form, at our hospital.