Victoria Hospital one of SHA’s top security spenders

Data from security review shows Prince Albert hospital near top in terms of cost per emergency department visit and per bed, but cautions against comparisons as situations differ from location to location

Jason Kerr/Daily Herald. Patients heading to the Victoria Hospital emergency department with non-life threatening injuries could face a few delays as staff deals with a backlog of visitors.

Prince Albert’s Victoria Hospital is one of the biggest spenders on security services across the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), data from a recent security review reveals.

The system-wide security review was released Tuesday. It includes recommendations and data about security services across the Saskatchewan Health Authority system.

Saskatchewan’s spending on security services in the health care system is consistently the second-highest in the nation on a per-capita basis across a number of measures, including cost per bed, cost per emergency room visit and per inpatient day.

Of the province’s hospitals, the Victoria Hospital has the fourth-largest security budget.  In 2016-17, the hospital spent $1.32 million on security and had 18.5 full-time equivalent contract positions for security.

That funding is some of the highest per bed in Saskatchewan, working out to about $7,630 per bed. The Victoria Hospital is also on the upper end of security spending per emergency department visit at $43 per visit.

Royal University Hospital (RUH) in Saskatoon spends the most overall, with Regina General coming in second and St. Paul’s in Saskatoon spending the third-most, despite having fewer FTEs than the Victoria Hospital.

RUH and Regina General spend a few dollars more on security per emergency room visit, but more than $1,000 less per bed compared to the hospital in Prince Albert. Prince Albert, however, has a higher crime severity index compared to Saskatoon and Regina.

The highest costs per bed are in La Loche and Nipawin, however, those facilities are on the lower end when it comes to security costs per emergency department visit.

The report cautioned against direct comparisons, as situations in individual communities are different both in terms of needs and in terms of salary costs. Salary costs can be higher in one location in order to retain staff or to keep up with higher or lower costs of living.

In 2017, the former Prince Albert Parkland Health Region acknowledged an increase in violent incidents at the Victoria Hospital. It said adjustments including moving the security office and working closely with the city police were being made to help mitigate any potential violence.

Across the health system, including in hospitals and other facilities, there were 270 reported incidents of staff members being assaulted, the report said, citing data from the Worker’s Compensation Board. Nurses and nurse supervisors represented 65 of those victims, with “assisting occupations in support of health services” reporting 175, and the remaining 30 coming from “other technical occupations in healthcare.”

The WCB also found that assaults, violent acts, attacks and harassment were in the top five causes for injuries and time-loss injuries in 2016.

“There are very real security challenges across the SHA,” the report said.

“It will be of no surprise to hear about workplace violence, the need for training at all levels and the gaps in areas that range from those working alone in the community to isolated rural hospitals.

“It was apparent … that security teams are kept busy — particularly in large urban areas.”