Staff, public question why they weren't alerted sooner about hospital trespasser

Staff and the public are wondering why they weren't alerted earlier to a bizarre series of incidents at Halifax hospitals in the last month.

A 49-year-old man has been arrested and charged after two reports of a man performing an indecent act inside a hospital.

The first report came in March 4 when a woman spotted a man who she says  was performing an indecent act at the Halifax Infirmary.

About two-and-a-half weeks later, a man was arrested for public intoxication at the Centennial Building, which is part of the Victoria General site of the QEII Health Sciences Centre. Police would later learn the same suspect had been spotted at the Bethune Building the same day -- again, allegedly performing an indecent act.

Then, last Sunday, at 1 a.m., 49-year-old Shannon David McInnis was picked up on hospital property and is now facing a slew of charges.

In one alleged incident, McInnis was said to be dressed like a doctor.

“In one instance, he was wearing a medical mask and medical scrubs,” said Halifax Regional Police spokesman Const. John MacLeod.

The details all emerged Monday, yet night after night, police reports to the media made no mention of the unusual things happening in the hospitals.

Police say that's because it took some time to figure out whether they were dealing with one individual -- which is exactly what the Nova Scotia Health Authority says about it.

“There were a series of incidents and it only became apparent over time that they were connected to the same person,” said NSHA spokesman John Gillis.

Nova Scotia Health Minister Randy Delorey said it was concerning to the health authority.

“That's why they took steps right away to engage the authorities to notify staff,” Delorey said.

That assertion is somewhat debatable as it was only last Thursday when the authority sent a safety reminder to staff, with officials telling them “they were disturbed by the incidents and the concern they'd caused.”

The suspect was arrested three days later.

“It's truly unacceptable,” said Jason MacLean, the president of  the Nova Scotia Government and Employees Union, which represents about 10,000 health-care workers in the province.

MacLean says this kind of thing is actually fairly common.

“It's a regular occurrence because we have improper security,” MacLean said. “We need better security in the hospitals.”

The health authority now says it will revisit each incident -- and how it responded -- as it looks for ways to do better.

They note heightened security has to be balanced with access to the hospitals.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko.