Hawaiian Hospital Boosts Emergency Department Security

Hawaiian Hospital Boosts Emergency Department Security

The Hilo Medical Center is increasing emergency room security following a March 20 incident in which a patient allegedly stabbed three health care workers and punched another.

The Hilo Medical Center is implementing new security protocols in the emergency department following an incident in which a patient allegedly stabbed three health care workers and punched another. The hospital is increasing security to better protect patients as well as employees.

The attack took place in the early morning hours of March 20. By 10 a.m. March 21, new security measures had been implemented for those entering the Emergency Department.

There is now a security station at the Emergency Department entrance, where visitors and patients are wanded with a handheld metal detector. Those entering the department by ambulance also go through the security screening.

“There’s two points of entry, so we want to make sure we’re secured from both points, from the walk-ins and the ambulance,” Chief Nursing Officer Arthur Sampaga Jr. said.

Visitor and patient bags are also searched for contraband items, such as firearms, knives, lighters, razors, used syringes and tools like screwdrivers.

“We’re also checking to make sure that there are no contraband items that come in with the patient,” said Kris Wilson, assistant hospital administrator who oversees security. “That’s our biggest focus, is to make sure that that area is safe and free from any harm.”

Prior to the March incident, there was security inside the hospital, but not at the entrance.

However, the medical center was already working on security improvements before the attack took place.

“Overall, we’ve been tightening our security over the past, I would say, year or so,” Wilson said. “There’s always been a focus on looking towards measures that we can improve our security.”

The hospital has installed more surveillance cameras throughout the campus, including in the parking lot and in the Emergency Department’s waiting rooms and hallways. The cameras insure that if anything does happen, surveillance footage is captured for review, Wilson said.

The hospital has added more security guards and will soon roll out name badges for Emergency Department visitors, Wilson said.

Staff and visitors have responded positively to the changes, Wilson said.

“I think they understand the purpose. They understand the circumstance that most hospitals are in at this point, especially emergency rooms where it’s a lot of throughput,” Wilson said. “So they’ve been very patient, and they’ve also been very respectful.”