RCMP investigating string of alleged sex assaults near Cowichan District Hospital
Mounties are increasing their patrols near Cowichan District Hospital in Duncan after reports of several sexual assaults in the area. (Google Maps)
VICTORIA -- The RCMP are stepping up their patrols near Cowichan District Hospital in Duncan after reports of multiple sexual assaults in the area.
Police say they were made aware of the alleged sexual assaults on Nov. 17. Mounties believe the incidents occurred between Nov. 2 and Nov. 17.
The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP are hoping to speak with anyone who was a victim or who has information about the incidents.
Mounties say they will be increasing patrols in the area and will increase visibility by using marked police vehicles operated by uniformed officers. Anyone who feels unsafe in the area is also encouraged to reach out to police for assistance.
Island Health says it is aware of multiple reports of sexual assault on the grounds of the hospital and that its top priority is the safety of patients, visitors and staff.
The health authority says that it has now upgraded safety measures at Cowichan District Hospital, including adding more security staff and increasing patrols around the property. Visitors and staff members are also being offered escorts to and from their vehicles and Island Health is encouraging workers and visitors to walk in groups or use the hospital’s Safe Walk program.
"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," said Elin Bjarnason, Island Health’s vice president of clinical operations for the South Island in a statement Thursday.
"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," she said. "These services are strictly confidential. You will be heard and you will be cared for."
Police are working with Island Health as the investigation continues.