Cowichan News Leader

Duncan man handed three-months jail for sexual assault at Cowichan District Hospital

A December 2011 sexual assault on a patient at Cowichan District Hospital led to three months in jail for a Duncan man and a sweeping new policy designed to better protect patients. - Andrew Leong/file
A December 2011 sexual assault on a patient at Cowichan District Hospital led to three months in jail for a Duncan man and a sweeping new policy designed to better protect patients.
— image credit: Andrew Leong/file

A Duncan man charged with sexually assaulting a senior female patient two years ago in a Cowichan District Hospital room received three months jail time, plus two years' probation Wednesday, Duncan court staff said.

But the criminal case against Daniel Patrick Hill, 49, also helped Victoria write a sweeping hospital-room safety and security policy.

It was formally installed last summer by the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

Even before VIHA's policy — called Hospital Room Assignment To Support Patient Privacy, and Dignity Safety — took effect, health brass took action just a day after Hill's Dec. 21, 2011 assault against the 83-year-old woman.

"On Dec. 22, 2011, new interim guidelines went into effect," VIHA's Suzanne Germain said, declining to comment about Hill's sentence by Judge J. Hubbard.

"This incident brought it to light."

Paired with a separate assault in another health authority, VIHA's room-safety policy requires CDH patients in semi-private rooms with two beds, to be the same gender.

Efforts must also happen to separate men and women in three- and four-bed rooms.

When mixed-gender rooms are necessary, there will be a minimum of two women per room, the policy stipulates.

Patients in mixed-gender rooms must also be alert, mentally competent, and able to vocalize concerns.

Those with violent or mental-health issues — or a history of appropriate sexual behavior — won't be placed in mixed-gender rooms.

"Care plans are developed for each patient," noted Germain.

"If a patient is a higher risk, they won't be placed in a shared room."

Security guards can also be posted if the patient poses a risk to themselves, or others.

Still, VIHA's room policy doesn't stop all risks, she cautioned.

"We don't lock patients in their rooms.

"If a patient wants to get up and walk around, it could still happen again," Germain said.

"There will always be a risk, but we've taken steps to mitigate those risks.

"As far as I know, this policy's been effective."

It was quickly quilled after the CDH patient, with dementia, was getting care in a four-bed room with two men, including Hill.

Hill's three-month jail sentence is being served concurrently after Wednesday's two other convictions involving drinking and driving, court staff said.

For those, Judge Hubbard handed Hill a two-year driving ban.

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