Nexus unit at John Hunter Hospital evacuated after patient causes $50,000 worth of damage

PATIENTS, staff and visitors were evacuated from the Nexus unit at John Hunter Hospital after a patient became violent and caused an estimated $50,000 worth of damage.

Police were called to the 12-bed child and adolescent mental health unit on Friday, August 31, after a young patient became aggressive and could not be contained by clinicians.

No one was injured during the incident.

“It required staff and patients to leave the unit to maintain everyone’s safety,” Hunter New England mental health services general manager, Leanne Johnson, said.

“The staff on the unit followed procedures appropriately, and maintained the safety of everyone, including the patients and their families, who were visiting the ward, themselves, and the patient. The unit was evacuated for approximately two hours while we undertook some fairly rapid restoration of the unit to ensure that it was safe.

“The safety of everyone was absolutely paramount, and that was evidenced by not one person being injured.”

The patient was taken into police custody.

“This was a very exceptional, very unusual incident, and one that has not happened in the lifetime of Nexus,” she said. “This was something that was very unpredictable, and very rare.”

Ms Johnson said the staff’s response to the incident had been “outstanding”.

“It was a traumatic experience for everyone,” she said.

“We debriefed with the staff. Some of the nurses have been nurses for 30 years, and they have never experienced anything like that. This is the only time in the unit’s history that we have needed to evacuate the unit.”

She said CAMHS – Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services – had done an “enormous amount of work” to improve the environment of Nexus, which had resulted in marked decreases in serious incidents and behavioural disturbances, and “huge improvements” in culture, Ms Johnson said.

“I worry that families who may be bringing their families into Nexus now will be worrying that it’s a really violent place, when it is not, it is really therapeutic,” she said.

“The clinical team have implemented an evidence-based program called Creating Positive Cultures of Care, and it has led to a dramatic decrease in aggressive incidents on the ward over the past two years, a decrease in seclusion and restraint for young people, and an increase in culture.”