NORTH BAY, ON — The results of a poll conducted last weekend asking North Bay residents whether they approve of the recent action of the regional hospital for firing a nurse who spoke out against workplace violence, will be released Friday at 10:30 a.m., 120 Lakeshore Rd.
Participation in the five-question poll, conducted by Public Polling was higher than the 10 per cent norm for similar type polls. About 17 per cent of those called completed the poll, which tested residents’ perceptions of the North Bay Regional Health Centre termination of registered practical nurse Sue McIntyre late in January. McIntyre was one of several nurses who took part in a panel discussion on patient assaults on nurses at a nursing conference in Kingston. McIntyre was dismissed by the hospital for comments attributed to her in a media release summarizing the conference findings.
“We were very pleased and thankful that so many in the community took time out of their weekend to complete the poll to the end. Over the last month Sue has received overwhelming support from many people in North Bay. From across the province in fact. This issue has resonated far beyond this hospital, this nurse and this community,” says Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) that commissioned the poll.
On February 29 nearly 400 health care workers, over 300 of them coming on buses from Kingston, Hamilton and Ottawa in challenging winter weather joined a rally in support of McIntyre’s reinstatement. The rally was also an indicator that although what the North Bay hospital administration is intended to frighten health care staff into silence, “it’s not working. Many people are more determined than ever to speak up to make hospitals safer for both patients and staff,” says Hurley.
A forum on workplace violence is planned for March 21 at 7 p.m. Hamilton nurse Linda Clayborne who spoke with McIntyre on the nursing panel will be among the guest speakers at the forum, Clayborne was among the more than 60 health care workers from Hamilton who travelled to North Bay for the February 29 rally.
The higher than usual uptake by residents also speaks to how tuned in the community is to the issue, says Hurley. “Uncovering the community’s attitude toward the hospital’s handling of the situation is very instructive for all of us. We do hope the health minister takes the time to consider the implications of what the North Bay hospital has done and act accordingly.”
After the Kingston conference, nurses appealed to the health minister to take the following actions:
- Legislation, to protect health care workers from violence;
- Providing health care with the same rights to refuse unsafe work as other workers in the public sector;
- Charge patients and family members who are violent with staff under the criminal code;
- Fund and staff Ontario hospitals and long-term care facilities to the Canadian average.
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