After the RCMP received reports of sexual assault on the grounds of Cowichan District Hospital last week, Island Health has issued a response.

“The safety of our patients, visitors, staff and medical staff is paramount and our highest priority,” said Vice President of Clinical Operations for the South Island, Elin Bjarnason.

It goes on to say that additional Protection Services staff have been hired and patrols of the property are more frequent. Staff and visitors have been provided with escorts to and from their vehicles.

The public is asked to walk in groups or use the Safe Walk program.

In an email to our newsroom, Bjarnason said, “I encourage any member of the public or staff who may have been assaulted or have any information to contact police or reach out to site leadership; support is available including from Forensic Nursing Services, which is available at CDH emergency department, and Chemainus and Ladysmith urgent care clinics. Forensic Nurse Examiners are compassionate and knowledgeable and can help you navigate this difficult time by helping you to make informed decisions about your health and situation in a safe and comforting space. These services are strictly confidential. You will be heard and you will be cared for.

Bjarnason said, “As this is a police matter, all questions about the investigation should be directed to RCMP.”

Island Health is cooperating with the RCMP in this investigation.