CORNWALL, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Feb. 29, 2016) - Nurses and other Cornwall health care staff will be among hundreds of health care workers from across Ontario heading to North Bay today, for a rally in support of Sue McIntyre who was fired last month for speaking up about workplace violence.

Helen Fetterly a long-time registered practical nurse (RPN) from Cornwall and secretary-treasurer of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE (OCHU), will be speaking at the noon rally in North Bay at the North Bay Regional Health Centre.

Fetterly was one of two other nurses who along with McIntyre spoke about violence in the workplace on a panel at a nursing conference in Kingston at the end of January. McIntrye was dismissed by her hospital employer following her participation on the panel where she spoke about the systemic problem of patient violence against health care workers.

The consensus among the 150 RPNs attending the Kingston conference is that patient assaults on hospital and long-term care staff are increasing.

In an interview with CBC radio following the nursing panel talk, Fetterly called "attacks by patients on nurses and other health care staff, rampant. Staff cutbacks she said present a "recipe for disaster".

"Staffing levels are low and nurse workloads too high. Compounding that, hospitals are not replacing sick nurses. There are fewer staff to deal with aggressive patients," says Fetterly.

Data shows that Ontario patients get 6.1 less hours of nursing care than the Canadian average. Ontario spends $353 less per citizen on acute hospital care than any other province.

"Violence has long-term effects on hospital and long-term care staff, well beyond the concussion or the broken bones. The psychological impacts take a long time to heal. In some cases, the injuries sustained are so profound that the victim can never return to nursing," says Fetterly.

Just prior to McIntyre's termination, several Hamilton hospital nurses have been attacked by patients. The nurses were seriously injured. In one case nurses were repeatedly punched in the head, with one losing consciousness after being thrown against a wall. Also hospital staff in Kingston and Cornwall suffered serious injuries from patient attacks. In one, a nurse was beaten unconscious with a lead pipe.

"We will not be intimidated into silence. Violence at hospitals and nursing homes also negatively affects patients and residents. Our health minister must take action. Sue is brave. She deserves her job back," says Fetterly.

Contact Information:

Stella Yeadon
CUPE Communications