Attack leaves Moncton nurse with head trauma, broken nose

A nurse was seriously injured in an attack Monday, allegedly by the husband of a patient, while working at the Dr.-Georges-L-Dumont University Hospital Centre in Moncton, N.B.

Norma Melanson, the nurse’s mother, said her daughter was attacked by the husband of a patient.

The man was allegedly upset his wife had been transferred from her room to an area closer to the nurses’ station because she was suffering seizures.

The attack allegedly went on for 11 minutes in the nurse’s office behind closed doors before security arrived. Melanson said her daughter told her he grabbed her from her chair, pulled out two handfuls of her hair, and struck her in the face and ribs.

“What she tells me was. ‘I was sure I was going to die,'” Melanson said.

“Eleven minutes being struck by or hit by someone must be a long, long, long time.”

The man was allegedly holding her by the throat when they were found, Melanson said.

What she tells me was “I was sure I was going to die.”– Norma Melanson, nurse’s mother

The nurse was transported to the emergency room, where she was treated for a brain contusion and a broken nose. RCMP were called and arrived on the scene shortly after, Melanson said. 

She is now suffering from headaches, nausea and vomiting due to the brain injury, and has two black eyes and a swelling near one eye. A brain scan revealed she had a concussion, and Melanson also said her daughter suffers from hemophilia.

‘My heart is full of tears’

Melanson said the attack occurred Monday around 2 p.m., which is during the hospital’s visiting hours. She received a call from her son around 4 p.m. telling her what happened.

Melanson hasn’t visited her daughter yet, because her children are worried how seeing her condition will affect her. She has only recently been released from rehab herself, after undergoing open-heart surgery in Saint John. Melanson said she was hospitalized for  78 days and in a coma for 62, and is still using a walker to get around. 

“She doesn’t want me to be upset.”

Still, Melanson said the whole family is distraught.

“My heart is full of tears.”

Her daughter is currently being cared for at home, because she is afraid to be in the hospital.

“She thinks somebody is going to kill her and she wakes up with nightmares.”

Melanson said RCMP told her daughter the alleged attacker is due to appear in court on June 4.

CBC News has contacted New Brunswick and Codiac Regional RCMP to confirm that, but have not yet received a response.

Violence in the workplace unacceptable, union says

Paula Doucet, president of the New Brunswick Nurses Union, said in an email to Radio-Canada that staffing levels in hospitals can provoke tense situations. 

“We know that our hospitals and other health care facilities are overcrowded and understaffed, increasing the risk of frustration and episodes of violence,” Doucet said.

Union vice-president Maria Richard said new legislation that will be in effect on April 1 will require employers like hospitals to do risk assessments of violence in the workplace.

The nurse was left with a brain contusion, broken nose and two black eyes. (CBC)

Richard said the nature of nurses’ work makes them vulnerable because they deal with people in high-stress situations who can lash out verbally or physically.

“It seems to be that it’s OK to yell and scream at people, and we need to shift that culture.”

The legislation will amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act to cover violence in the workplace. Richard said New Brunswick is the last province to implement this kind of legislation. She said a study in 2017 showed 63 per cent of nurses in New Brunswick have experienced different types of workplace violence.

Vitalité Health Network said in an email statement that it has a zero-tolerance policy regarding violence in the workplace.

“We take each of these situations very seriously and provide support services to all affected employees,” the statement said.

“Any incident in which a staff member is threatened, abused or assaulted is immediately reported and necessary actions are taken.”