The Manitoba government has announced that institutional safety officers (ISOs) will begin patrolling Health Sciences Centre (HSC) Winnipeg starting April 15, enhancing the hospital’s ability to keep staff, patients and visitors safe.

“We fully support initiatives that increase the safety and security of people working, visiting and receiving care at hospitals across Manitoba,” said Health, Seniors and Long-Term Care Minister Uzoma Asagwara. “Institutional safety officers are long-overdue, and a significant step forward, having received enhanced training and the legal authority to enforce and exercise powers under various provincial statutes.”

ISOs are responsible for maintaining safety and security at a number of facilities across Manitoba including post-secondary institutions and hospitals. ISOs are trained in public safety and crime prevention, various de-escalation techniques, enforcement of provincial laws, arrests, searches and seizures, use of force and officer safety, note-taking, interview basics, court preparation and mental health awareness.

ISOs are also licensed as security guards and in health-care environments have additional training which allows them to accept a mental health patient from police, then secure and protect them until seen by health-care professionals, the minister noted.

The ISOs beginning work at HSC Winnipeg next week will be trained and equipped with pepper gel as Shared Health and partners evaluate the suitability of other equipment within a health-care setting.

“Institutional safety officers will bring an added layer of training and expertise to addressing and maintaining the safety of staff, patients and visitors at HSC,” said Dr. Shawn Young, chief operating officer, HSC Winnipeg. “We continue to do our due diligence on other safety initiatives as we work to balance the security needs of the facility with the continued need for HSC to be a welcoming space for those seeking care.”

The addition of ISOs is the next step in a broader plan to improve safety and security for everyone receiving, and delivering, care at HSC Winnipeg, the minister noted. Previous improvements include security camera and panic alarm upgrades, lighting installation, and parkade renovations.

Additional training classes for ISOs are ongoing, with classes planned for over the next three months. In total, 105 ISOs positions will be filled, with successful candidates who have completed training and testing posted at HSC Winnipeg, St. Boniface Hospital, Victoria General Hospital, Brandon Regional Health Centre and Selkirk Mental Health Centre.