Manitoulin OPP officers have made an arrest in connection to a violent incident that shut down the emergency department of the hospital in Elliot Lake for several hours on Oct. 16.
A 34-year-old man from Elliot Lake was charged with multiple offences, including mischief over $5,000 and assault with a weapon.
On the day of the incident, police responded to a disturbance call at St. Joseph’s General Hospital, located on 70 Spine Road, at about 11:40 a.m.
“Hospital staff were dealing with a person in the emergency room who began acting out,” said the OPP.
“The individual was throwing equipment and furniture around, causing considerable damage. Equipment was also thrown at a staff member.”
Hospital CEO Pierre Ozolins told The Sudbury Star that the emergency department initiated an ambulance bypass that lasted about three hours as a result of the incident. Walk-in patients were also being asked to go to another hospital to seek medical treatment.
“One ambulance was diverted to the hospital in Blind River during that time. Once the phone systems were restored and some computers were brought in and things cleaned up, we were able to come back into service,” he said.
“The Counselling Centre of East Algoma was on site to debrief with staff. Staff did an extraordinary job recuperating from the incident. They cobbled together equipment to get us back and cleaned up the department.”
Ozolins said that, luckily, nobody was injured during the incident. However, he estimated that the outburst resulted in about $15,000 in property damage, including damage to hospital equipment.
“Senior management team, managers, ER staff, ICU staff, IT staff, housekeeping staff, and switchboard staff did a great job in maintaining their composure during and after the event, such that we were able to recuperate very well and serve the community in a very short time,” he added.
Manitoulin OPP launched an investigation following the incident, and police made one arrest on Oct. 28.
Matthew Lefebvre was charged with mischief over $5,000, mischief under $5,000, assault with a weapon, common nuisance – endangering life, and mischief for interfering with the lawful use of property.
The accused is scheduled to appear before the Ontario Court of Justice in Elliot Lake on Jan. 5.
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Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star