Hospital addresses staff safety and levels in Emergency Department


When our newsroom learned of the two assaults occurring on Canada Day at Sault Area Hospital we reached out to the administration to get some answers on the situation. Simply put we wanted to know what they were doing to protect staff as well as how they intended to alleviate the issues they were facing.

Brandy Sharp Young, Manager of Communications & Volunteer Resources for SAH responded to our inquiry late yesterday afternoon.


Q: What is Sault Area Hospital doing to protect its staff?

A: Sault Area Hospital (SAH) takes all incidents of violence seriously, and we endeavour to take every precaution to protect our patients and healthcare workers. Violence will not be tolerated in our facility. Incidents of such behaviour will result in SAH taking appropriate action, which may include removal from our facility and/or prosecution.

In 2021, the Emergency Department Safety Improvement Project was created due to escalating incidents of violence in Emergency Departments across the Province and locally. The Emergency Department (ED) leadership team, with support from SAH’s Senior Leadership, and key ED stakeholders, initiated an Emergency Department and Triage Area Safety Improvement project. This project undertook a comprehensive environmental risk assessment for the ED and triage areas. Based on the environmental risk assessment findings, an action plan consisting of several safety measures has been developed with the goal of improving safety in the Emergency Department.

The Action plan is at various stages of implementation. Measures include reconfiguration of access to the core ED, line of sight improvements, additional CCTV cameras, policy and procedure enhancements (violence flagging, development of safety plans, safety drills and mock exercises), personal panic buttons for healthcare workers, and safety education and training for staff and physicians. This work is being done with the ED staff and physicians, the hospital Security Team, and other key stakeholders such as SSM Police Services and SSM Paramedic Services.

The Emergency Department’s responsibility is to receive every patient who presents to the ED and find the right services and care for all individuals. We will continue to work over the coming months to make further safety improvements to the Emergency Department and Triage Area to protect our patients, workers, and our community.

Q: What are they doing to alleviate the staffing concerns in the Emergency Room? What has caused the staffing concerns? People quitting? retirement? lack of people wanting to work there?

A: At Sault Area Hospital, volumes and wait times in the Emergency Department (ED) continue to fluctuate.  Currently, we are experiencing a higher number of patient visits than prior to the pandemic and longer wait times continue to be a possibility, particularly when staffing challenges overlay the high number of visits.

Our staffing challenges are impacted by many factors across multiple departments and areas. At this time, our Emergency Department is feeling the most impact. We continue our recruitment efforts for the ED, and all departments within the hospital to meet the needs of our community.

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  1. The wait times are despicable. Not to defend anyone for violence, etc. but I can see people getting very angry while in the department as they wait for HOURS and HOURS and HOURS to be seen by someone, and once they are seen it takes days to get admitted to a floor some days. They don’t tell you all the facts either, as there are some days where physician coverage is so scarce they go for an hour or so without a physician in the ER relying on calling down a physician from ICU or another area of the hospital if something major comes in, all while the waiting room gets fuller and fuller… They need to fix this, and stop putting bandaids on it. Asking for peoples patience and cooperation only goes so far…. Again not saying that the actions of these individuals were in any way acceptable (or necessarily related to wait time) but I can see myself loosing my patience very quickly if I was suffering and being told to wait for 6 hours!

  2. How about hiring more security personnel and have them at the nurses stations in the ED not just outside in their office watching cameras!
    Self defense training for all hospital staff. I’m tired of people telling us that we will get in trouble if we defend ourselves.

  3. Well, they didn’t really answer anything regarding the long wait times in thebED, other than they that they “continue our recruitment efforts for the ED, and all departments within the hospital to meet the needs of our community.”

    We already knew that!

    Maybe the ridiculously long wait times are a reason that some sick people get upset and assault staff?

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