Red Deer hospital worker seriously injured in alleged attack by psych patient

A Red Deer hospital psychiatric aide is recovering from an alleged serious assault after trying to protect a co-worker from an aggressive and violent patient on March 1.

According to his family’s GoFundMe campaign, Jason Aquino, who was working in the adolescent psychiatric unit, fell down hard during the assault, hitting the back of his head on the floor, which caused him to lose consciousness and go into cardiac arrest.

He was in the intensive care unit for a week before being transferred to the cardiology unit, where he waited for surgery to receive an implantable cardioverter defibrillator. Surgery was done on March 14 and he is now at home recovering.

“It will be a long road to recovery as he has so many restrictions but for now we are just happy that he’s back to us. We are forever grateful to all of you,” said his wife, Cyrille Mae Aquino, in the GoFundMe campaign Help Jason & Family during this challenging time that has raised $7,765.

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Red Deer RCMP are still investigating with assistance from its General Investigations Section, and will work with the Crown prosecutors office to determine if charges will be laid.

RCMP Cpl. Troy Savinkoff said it was a vicious assault, but the mental capacity of the patient to commit the offence must be determined, so it’s a more complex investigation.

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Darren Graham, vice president with the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, said that unfortunately, people in health care get hurt quite often, but not usually to the extent of Aquino, who will hopefully receive all the support he needs from Alberta Health Services (AHS) during his recovery.

“There are various levels of assault, including physical and mental, that go on. Part of that is the chaos the healthcare system is in right now. A lot of it’s due to short staffing and facility constraints,” said Graham, adding that limitations and the demands on Red Deer’s hospital are well known.

“We hope that Jason’s recovery is a speedy one.”

He said when violence occurs, it affects the entire hospital’s healthcare team, from doctors to unit clerks to cleaners. AHS and occupational health and safety will lead an investigation.

“We just hope it’s a fulsome investigation and that we’re involved in any potential solutions that come out of that investigation.”

Graham said staffing and other concerns around workplace health and safety are part of the AUPE’s negotiations with AHS, as well as other unions involved in negotiations.

In a statement, AHS said the care and well-being of patients, staff and physicians are always its first concern.

“We take any situation that impacts the safety of our staff or the patients we’re caring for very seriously,” AHS said.

AHS said it has programs to address staff safety. If an accident or injury occurs, there are processes to ensure staff get the support and treatment they need.

AHS also conducts internal reviews to determine improvements that can be made following any serious incident.

“If changes are recommended following such reviews, those changes will be made.”

As RCMP are investigating, AHS said it will not be providing further comment on this specific matter.


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