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Attacks on SAH workers stem from mental health issues, court hears

On Canada Day, officers were dispatched to SAH about an unwanted person, who was causing a scene and problems in the emergency department
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Sault Area Hospital. Darren Taylor/SooToday

Mary Werth's attacks on two Sault Area Hospital workers stemmed from ongoing - at times severe - mental health issues that have plagued her since she was 14 years of age, her lawyer said Wednesday

The 26-year-old woman "attends the hospital in a state of crisis, doesn't act appropriately and finds herself in court," Adrienne Hagan told the judge.

Werth pleaded guilty to two counts of assault, breach of an undertaking, and mischief when she appeared in court, via video from the Algoma Treatment and Remand Centre.

Ontario Court Justice John Condon heard the first incident occurred on Dec. 20.

Police were called to the hospital because she was being difficult with staff, and refusing to leave.

As officers were arresting the woman, she became assaultive and kicked a security guard, assistant Crown attorney Robert Skeggs said.

On Canada Day, officers were dispatched to SAH about an unwanted person, who was causing a scene and problems in the emergency department.

Police found her at nearby bus stop, Skeggs said.

"She said she wanted to stay at the hospital but they wouldn't let her stay."

Werth charged a nurse, who was there, and "shoved her backwards," the prosecutor said.

Three days later on July 4, after she had been placed on an undertaking with a condition not to be at the hospital unless she required medical attention, police again got a call about her.

Werth had seen a physician and after receiving treatment, she had refused to leave, Skeggs told the court.

On July 8, an employee with the Canadian Mental Health Association contacted police.

Werth, who was "quite agigated," had kicked in a door, shattering the glass, at the agency's Queen Street office, Condon heard.

It cost $500 to repair the damage.

The lawyers jointly recommended that Werth, who has no previous criminal record,  be sentenced to time served (the equivalent of 130.5 days), followed by 12 months probation.

Skeggs said a lot of work, involving local agencies, had been done to get Werth "released today."

The Crown wanted to make sure she had assistance in the community, he told the judge, indicating housing has been arranged.

CMHA has helped, is in constant contact with her client, and there are supports to assist her, Hagan said

"I've visited her ar ATRC and have noticed a great improvement."

Before Condon imposed sentence, Werth said "I take full responsibility for my actions." 

Noting "the root of her behaviour is a challenging mental condition," the judge said her conduct has to be addressed

During her probation, she must attend and participate in any recommended programs for psychiatric and psychological issues

As well, Werth must remain away from SAH, except for medical emergencies, and is not to harass or physically interfere with any staff members.

"I'll do my best to try not to go there," she told the judge.

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About the Author: Linda Richardson

Linda Richardson is a freelance journalist who has been covering Sault Ste. Marie's courts and other local news for more than 45 years.
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