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Health: Security Concerns In Wake Of Mercy Wellness Center Shooting

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Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3 and The CW Philly 57’s Emmy Award-win...
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By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The medical center shooting in Darby has raised new concerns about security at health care facilities.

It’s an issue that our Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has been covering. We investigated this in April, with hospital staff being injured on the job and thus raising serious questions about safety. The Labor Department says health care is the leading industry for workplace violence, and many feel there isn’t enough security.

There’s a no gun policy, but nothing else to stop people from bringing guns into the Mercy Wellness Center. There are no metal detectors, or even a front desk. The shooter simply walked into the doctor’s office, where the doctor also had a gun.

“All of our facilities have some form of security,” says Mark Ross, the Director of Emergency Preparedness for the Hospital and Health System Association of Pennsylvania.

He admits the security at medical facilities isn’t stringent or uniform.

“There is no distinct standard. There are recommendations through accreditation agencies that say you need a security staff,” explains Ross.

It’s generally limited for doctors’ offices, but even in hospitals, security varies. Some have metal detectors, like in the emergency department at Cooper University Hospital. Camera surveillance and security guards are often other security measures.
But some say hospital violence is a growing problem.

A report in The Annals of Emergency Medicine found that from 2000 to 2011, there were 154 hospital related shootings, with 235 injured or killed.

“I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve been assaulted,” says Shauna Tripani, a local nurse who we interviewed in April.

She says medical facilities need more security.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know when somebody’s going to come in with a gun,” Shauna says.

Ross agrees it’s an issue everywhere, not just in medical facilities.

“It is a tragic circumstance, Stephanie. It says more about today’s society, more so than the industry,” said Ross.

He says his association and the Mercy Hospital System is re-evaluating security plans, and there could be new actions taken following the shooting.

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