Interior Health hires hospital ‘ambassadors’ to beef up security

Nine ambassadors will start work in Kelowna, Vernon and Kamloops next week.

Interior Health’s three busiest emergency departments will welcome new team members next week.

Interior Health is implementing a new client service ambassador program to further enhance safety at Kelowna General, Royal Inland, and Vernon Jubilee hospitals.

“At Interior Health, the safety of our employees and physicians is a top priority, as is the safety of our patients and clients,” said Interior Health board chairman John O’Fee.

“Unfortunately, when caring for people who are in emotional, vulnerable, and stressful situations, their actions can be unpredictable and may include violence or aggression. This program is a good example of ways in which we are taking action to prevent and better respond to violent incidents.”

Although they are security employees, the ambassadors’ role differs from that of security officers. They are more casually dressed, and are integrated with the emergency department team. They work proactively with patients, visitors, and others in the department to avoid and mitigate incidents of aggression.

The new initiative is based on a similar program that has been successful in several emergency departments in the Lower Mainland.

The ambassadors have specialized training, which helps them to recognize and de-escalate potentially aggressive behaviors. As a result, if an incident arises they are able to step in and mitigate potential violence. This special training is developed and provided by security provider Paladin, in addition to the regular provincial violence prevention curriculum and other education.

The program is a partnership between the hospitals, Protection Services, Workplace Health and Safety, and Paladin Security.

The ambassadors will be easy to spot in their casual uniform (polo T-shirt and khaki pants.)

Nine ambassadors have been hired—three per site—and they will begin working at KGH, RIH and VJH next week, said Interior Health.