The Brant Community Healthcare System is reporting an increase in verbal and physical violence directed at frontline healthcare staff.

“We are asking that they [staff] be treated first with respect and with civility and not have to come to work and worry about being treated violently,” said Dr. David McNeil, president and CEO of the Brant Community Healthcare System.

Dr. McNeil wants to remind visitors to Brantford General Hospital or the Willett Urgent Care Centre to treat staff with the respect and courtesy they deserve.

“I’m unhappy that I have to actually issue a notice like this to the public," he said.

He said more staff are being physically hurt, and it’s an issue that is getting worse.

“It's a contributing factor to people leaving the profession, and it sure is a contributing factor to the moral distress that we're seeing within our frontline providers,” Dr. McNeil said.

According to Dr. McNeil, staffing shortages caused by the pandemic are making wait times in emergency rooms longer than usual.

 However, he said lashing out at healthcare workers is not going to speed up the process.

“It's an unacceptable way to get [a] response,” Dr. McNeil said.

Since the pandemic started, violence against healthcare workers in Ontario has increased by 50 per cent, according to the Ontario Nurses’ Association.

“It is in every single place. It’s not only in hospital, it’s in-home care, public healthcare. It’s everywhere,” Cathryn Hoy, president of the Ontario Nurses’ Association said.

Hoy said despite security and response systems in healthcare settings, nurses are facing violence daily. Some may not feel comfortable reporting it as well.

“They’re threatened, they’re grabbed by the throat, they’re choked, they’re punched, hit, spit, kicked, you name it,” Hoy said.

According to Hoy, some nurses can not return to work due to their injuries. She thinks extra security, like a metal detector, might be helpful for staff safety.

“You would be shocked at the weapons that come through the doors. We’ve had shootings in emergency departments. That’s ridiculous,” Hoy said.