Saskatoon's St.Paul's Hospital is reminding employees to be alert when coming or going from work after a nurse had her wallet and cellphone stolen during a daylight robbery earlier this week.
Saskatoon police say at roughly 3:15 p.m. CST on Sunday, the 35-year-old woman was robbed of her belongings in the area of Avenue Q S. and 20th Street W. Police said the man, who was believed to be high on methamphetamine, had a knife in his waistband but did not use it in the robbery.
Police have since charged a 28-year-old man, who was arrested on Monday at a convenience store in the 1000 block of Eighth Street E., with robbery.
Karen Barber, the executive director of St. Paul's, said the hospital takes the safety of all who visit or work at the hospital — whether staff, family or patients — "very seriously." She also noted the hospital issues frequent reminders to staff about steps they can take to protect themselves.
"We tell staff to always be aware of their surroundings, to always be watching and aware, and to avoid walking while texting, for example," she said in an interview with CBC News on Wednesday.
Employees are also advised to walk with confidence and, when possible, walk in a group, said Barber. She said St. Paul's Hospital is located in a "high-crime area," and added, "this isn't an isolated incident."
"We've experienced issues with safety in the past as well, and so we've been continuously working on making improvements."
In addition to having security guards on-site around the clock and security cameras, she said the hospital also has good working relationships with Saskatoon police, the Pleasant Hill Community Association and the neighbourhood watch Okihtcitawak Patrol Group.
"We're continuously discussing how things are going … what new issues might have [arisen] and how we can problem-solve together," she said. "We're all obviously very interested in safety and security in the hospital, on the grounds and in the neighbourhood."
Employees are also encouraged to utilize safe-walk programs available at St. Paul's Hospital, Barber said, noting while there may be some wait for an escort, the hospital does it's "very best to accommodate and provide that service as quickly as possible."
The victim of Sunday's robbery also posted in a Facebook group for nurses at St. Paul's cautioning her colleagues about the incident, saying while she had her phone stolen, she was "otherwise unharmed."
The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses, which represents roughly 10,000 nurses across Saskatchewan — including those working at St. Paul's — said they want to hear from union members who have had safety concerns at the hospital.
"The more information we can get about the safety concerns our members are having, the more we can do to try to help drive positive change," said the union's first vice-president, Denise Dick.
She said the union feels St. Paul's should be constantly reviewing its safety practices to ensure the hospital has appropriate resources and security measures in place to keep everyone there safe.
Barber said St. Paul's security is in regular contact with Saskatoon police and is always looking for ways to make improvements.
Photo credit: CBC Saskatchewan