An unauthorized individual worked as many as eight shifts in a busy Winnipeg hospital before being caught.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) says throughout the course of two weeks this month, someone walked into the St. Boniface Hospital posing as a health care worker, performing the duties of an uncertified health care aide (UHCA).

Between July 2 and 17, the individual worked up to eight shifts at the hospital. They also spent time working in the emergency department.

"The circumstances of this incident—while highly unusual and isolated—are troubling, as it appears that gaps in process were allowed to occur," the WRHA says in a Thursday statement.

The WRHA says this person called the hospital's staffing claiming to be a newly hired UHCA. The WRHA says the individual has significant knowledge of the training and hiring process at St. Boniface. This person started but did not complete the program that would have given them certification to do this job.

A gap between confirming the individual's employment status resulted in the hospital scheduling the unauthorized person of a shift, which they completed. After the shift was finished, the staffing office discovered the error and told them they could not work there. The Shared Health Provincial Redeployment and Recruitment Team told the person they could not work at any health care site.

Despite being told this, the person returned posing as an uncertified health care aide, avoiding the staffing office who knew the truth.

"The individual possessed a seemingly deep knowledge of the facility, its units and managers. With this information, the individual was able to present themselves to screening and security as an employee and was admitted on multiple occasions."

Continuing to work, the person performed duties such as retrieving supplies and directing or escorting patients to rooms typical to the role. The WRHA says they did not have access to controlled medications and were in the direct vicinity of professional health care staff at all times. Staff then noticed the person on a "shift" was not authorized. The individual was immediately barred from the hospital. 

"The WRHA and St. Boniface would like to extend our gratitude to the staff members who raised concerns and ultimately flagged this individual to leadership."

Police were called. After speaking with the person they determined no ill will was intended and no further action is being taken against the individual. 

"St. Boniface Hospital deeply regrets this incident and extends sincere apologies to both its patients and its staff," the WRHA says. "We would like to remind both staff and patients that you have a right—and are encouraged—to ask any health care worker to view their formal identification at any time if it is not visible."

Patients with concerns about this incident are being asked to call the St. Boniface Hospital Patient Relations office at 204-237-2306.