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Supporting staff key for health region after Russell hospital assaults, CEO says

Staff members and patients at the Russell Health Centre are still rattled by an incident that occurred on Tuesday when a patient became so violent that he had to be sedated by a stun gun.

Along with commending staff members for acting quickly to prevent any further harm, Prairie Mountain Health region CEO Penny Gilson said counselling and stress debriefing are being offered to those involved.

“We had an unfortunate, unexpected incident of violence which involved the need for RCMP response,” Gilson said.

“Right now, our major concern is ensuring staff and witnesses involved get the support they need. We are listening to the staff and figuring out if there’s anything we can learn from this incident that will help us in the future.”

Russell RCMP were called to the local health centre at 5 p.m. on Tuesday and arrived moments later to find a man threatening hospital staff and patients.

Police say the man attended the hospital seeking medical treatment for unspecified injuries sustained in an early morning snowmobile crash. A doctor and at least two nurses were said to be in the midst of treating the man when he suddenly became violent and proceeded to leave the room.

It’s alleged the man later assaulted a young girl and chased another child in the hospital. Afterwards he allegedly continued to utter threats toward nearby patients. The motive behind the assaults is still unclear but substance abuse is considered to be a factor.

“Certainly this is a situation where things can change very quickly for us from a policing perspective, and we were very concerned about the public’s safety in the hospital at the time and we can only commend the nurses that did a fantastic job out there,” RCMP spokeswoman Sgt. Line Karpish said.

“The moments it took us to get there they were dealing with the situation and can certainly be credited for preventing further injuries.”

Craig Allan Huntinghawk, 43, of the Waywayseecappo First Nation, faces nine charges in relation to the events of Jan. 1.

Karpish, who said that the investigation is ongoing, added that although RCMP responded within minutes, for those involved, a few minutes can sometimes feel like an eternity.

“It seems like a long time for those that wait for us,” she said. “In the grand scheme of things it was only a few moments so clearly they were quite pleased when our members got there.”

Due to the sudden nature of these kinds of incidents, Gilson said that hospital processes and environments for rural hospitals across the region are always being looked into.

“We have been looking at this for a long time,” she said. “Especially isolated rural environments to ensure staff have the best possible security in any and all circumstances.”

A similar incident was reported back in March 2011 when a nurse was brutally attacked by a patient at the Hamiota Health Centre, which raised concerns about security at rural Westman hospitals.

It was alleged that a man locked two nurses in a room and assaulted one of them before taking off in a stolen vehicle.

The man was later arrested after the vehicle was spotted on Highway 83.

Following the incident, panic alarm systems were installed at the Hamiota hospital and other security changes were made to rural hospitals across the region including room-by-room assessments, environmental changes and the installation of safe rooms.

Staff members are also expected to carry a communication device with them at all times.

» lenns@brandonsun.com

SUSPECT STILL IN POLICE CUSTODY

A man who faces nine charges after staff and patients were terrorized at the Russell Health Centre remains in custody.

Court documents also indicate that he faces previous unrelated charges, some of which date back more than a decade.

RCMP said they were called to the health centre around 5 p.m. on Tuesday for a report of a violent patient.

Police allege that the man attacked a doctor, a number of nurses and a young girl. He also chased a child and threatened other patients, RCMP said in a press release issued on Wednesday.

It’s also alleged that the man assaulted an RCMP officer and was shocked with a stun gun to bring him under control.

Substance abuse was believed to have been a factor in the incident, police said.

Craig Allan Huntinghawk, 43, of the Waywayseecappo First Nation, faces nine charges in relation to events of Jan. 1.

Those include aggravated assault, assaulting a peace officer, two other counts of assault, mischief, failing to abide by a bail order and uttering threats.

Huntinghawk didn’t personally appear in Brandon court on Thursday as his case was remanded to Jan. 17. He remains in custody.

No further details were presented in court, but the aggravated assault charge alleges that a female’s life had somehow been put in danger.

Huntinghawk also faces charges that date from prior to the health centre incident.

He’s accused of failing to report to probation between Sept. 11, 2012 and Oct. 19, 2012.

In addition — even though court documents indicate that a judge put him on probation as recently as September 2012, and that he allegedly missed a court date as recently as December 2012 — he still faces outstanding charges that date back more than 15 years.

Those consistof breach of probation and assault causing bodily harm from May 1997 out of Minnedosa, and a fail to attend court allegation that dates from July 1997.

At least one arrest warrant was issued in July 1997 due to the missed court date.

» ihitchen@brandonsun.com

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 4, 2013

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Staff members and patients at the Russell Health Centre are still rattled by an incident that occurred on Tuesday when a patient became so violent that he had to be sedated by a stun gun.

Along with commending staff members for acting quickly to prevent any further harm, Prairie Mountain Health region CEO Penny Gilson said counselling and stress debriefing are being offered to those involved.

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Staff members and patients at the Russell Health Centre are still rattled by an incident that occurred on Tuesday when a patient became so violent that he had to be sedated by a stun gun.

Along with commending staff members for acting quickly to prevent any further harm, Prairie Mountain Health region CEO Penny Gilson said counselling and stress debriefing are being offered to those involved.

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