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P.E.I. health-care worker who grabbed patient by throat gets suspended sentence

Harvey Irving worked as a resident care worker and licensed practical nurse at the  Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown. (Kirk Pennell/CBC - image credit)
Harvey Irving worked as a resident care worker and licensed practical nurse at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown. (Kirk Pennell/CBC - image credit)

A former P.E.I. health-care worker who pleaded guilty to assaulting a patient will not receive jail time, but will have a criminal record and be on probation for two years.

Harvey Irving, 62, received a suspended sentence in the recent provincial court decision. He worked as a resident care worker and licensed practical nurse at the psychiatric unit of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

The court heard that an adult male patient, who was a permanent resident of Unit 9 at the QEH, swung his arm at Irving at the hospital on Aug. 19, 2023.

Irving responded by grabbing the patient and putting him into a safe room. Irving left but came back, said Crown attorney Emily Campbell, "and immediately grabs the patient by the throat … he pushes the patient back down on the bed, holding him down by the throat for approximately nine seconds."

Another staff member helped put the patient in a restraint chair and medicated him. The patient did not receive any physical injuries.

When the patient's parents were told the restraint chair was used, they asked for more information. A supervisor looked at video footage of the incident, then called police.

Irving was sentenced last week in Charlottetown Provincial Court.
Irving was sentenced last week in Charlottetown Provincial Court.

Irving was sentenced last week in provincial court in Charlottetown. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Irving was fired from his job. His lawyer, Lucas MacArthur, said Irving regrets what he did and apologized to the patient shortly after, but no longer wants to work in health care.

He said Irving had been working 12-hour shifts for about a month straight and was stressed and burnt out when the assault occurred.

'Worst nightmare come true'

Judge Jeff Lantz said the assault may not have been reported if the parents had not asked for more information.

In a victim impact statement, the parents said watching the video felt like their "worst nightmare come true."

"It has left us feeling powerless and upset … We trusted the staff … not only did they not protect him, they harmed him."

The Union of Public Sector Employees, which represents LPNs and RCWs, said it could not comment on the specific case. But in a statement, it said it has "advocated for safe work environments for all our members, staff, and persons accessing health-care services."

"Our members report to us that they are fatigued, stressed, overworked and working in unhealthy work environments, this includes working short staffed, working double shifts and being refused leaves."