Hospital weighs security against budget

As some hospitals struggle with the economic downturn, facilities may be playing a balancing act of spending to improve security measures with the precious dollars they do have.

For instance, following a shooting at Massena (N.Y.) Memorial Hospital, the hospital board yesterday voted to approve more than $19,000 in additional security measures, including surveillance cameras and software that directly contacts the police department, reports the Watertown Daily Times.

The shooting was the first firearm incident at the hospital. New York State Nurses Association requested the hospital hire more security guards, which CEO Charles F. Fahd said was considered but not on the table, according to the article.

Dissenting hospital board member Paul Morrow added, "I'm certainly not against some of the money we're spending for additional security. But I don't want to be crying wolf because of one instance in 60 years."

However, according to Russell Colling, a Colorado-based healthcare security consultant, improvements in security don't have to be complex or costly, for that matter, FierceHealthcare previously reported. He recommended providing visitors with temporary badges and offering training to existing security staff and providers to detect and alert others of suspicious activity or persons.

The Joint Commission last year in a Sentinel Event Alert warned hospitals of steadily increasing rates of crime, including assault, rape and murder. The accreditation agency recommends evaluating facilities for risk of violence, including reviewing crime rates and surveying employees about their perceptions of risk. It also suggests taking extra security precautions in the emergency department.

For more information:
- read the Watertown Daily Times article
- read the FierceHealthcare article on the Sentinel Event Alert

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