A local psychiatrist is “lucky to be alive” after he was allegedly attacked Friday afternoon while interviewing a patient at Penticton Regional Hospital.
Summerland man Gregory Stanley Nield, 30, has since been charged with assault causing bodily harm and aggravated assault. He made his first appearance at the Penticton courthouse on Tuesday where he was ordered to a 30-day psychiatric assessment to be completed at the Forensic Psychiatric Institute in Port Coquitlam.
Nield looked at family and friends at the back of the courtroom for most of his brief appearance. Through his lawyer he apologized for his appearance stating, “he normally doesn’t look like that.” Nield had been featured several times in the sports section of the Western News for his achievements in the world of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Penticton RCMP said in a press release that officers were called to the hospital because a patient “had attacked a doctor and was continuing to cause problems,” and Nield was later arrested without incident. Police said the victim suffered a broken jaw and other facial injuries as a result of the attack.
Court documents identify the victim as Dr. Rajeev Sheoran, whose LinkedIn profile describes him as a self-employed consultant psychiatrist.
Interior Health CEO Robert Halpenny said Sheoran was conducting a one-on-one interview with Nield in the PRH psychiatric unit when there was a “violent altercation,” and Sheoran was “seriously injured” and taken to Kelowna General Hospital for treatment.
Gayle Duteil, president of the B.C. Nurses’ Union, painted a more grim picture.
“We won’t go into specific details, but the doctor is lucky to be alive,” she told a separate news conference Monday.
“Nurses on the scene said the patient calmly walked out of a closed-door session and announced the doctor might be dead.”
Duteil said the incident “highlights the dangerous lack of security in B.C.’s psychiatric and forensic facilities.”
She called on Interior Health to provide personal alarms to medical staff at PRH and post dedicated security guards in the psychiatric unit.
Halpenny said staff and patient safety is a priority, and a full investigation is already underway in conjunction with the RCMP and WorkSafeBC.
He said Nield did not appear to present an exceptional threat.
“Any patient admitted in any location in the hospital, there’s always certain risks, and certainly in the psychiatric unit there is enhanced risks, (but) I wouldn’t say that this individual was obviously any different than any other patient in that environment,” said Halpenny.
“The physician himself felt comfortable to meet with the patient, so I wouldn’t say there was anything too unusual.”
Dr. Jacqueline Stewart, president of the Penticton Medical Staff Society that represents physicians who work at PRH, called it a “very unusual and rare event to occur in the health care setting and we hope our colleague has a speedy recovery.”
“I have not heard from the other doctors working in that facility, and do not have many details surrounding the circumstances, but we hope the investigation will ensure everything possible is done to ensure the safety of doctors and other health care workers at the site,” she said.
Nield is scheduled to appear via video in Penticton court on Jan. 7.