Penn State Hershey to begin arming security guards

Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey (Pa.) Medical Center will begin arming a "select group" of security guards in November, Penn Live reports. The measure is meant to protect nurses and other healthcare professionals from acts of aggression or violence inside the hospital.

Hospital President Deborah A. Berini confirmed the policy change to Penn Live and said officials have also begun placing signs throughout the facility informing patients and visitors that aggressive behavior and speech will not be tolerated.

Ms. Berini said the hospital expanded its security force from 18 to 30 individuals, but only a select group who have undergone special training in dealing with violent situations and firearm proficiency will carry guns. While she declined to tell Penn Live the exact number of security officials who will be carrying guns, those select individuals will be armed 24/7, she said.

The security measures are part part of "a tremendous amount of work that has been underway for several years" to improve security for staff, patients and visitors, Ms. Berini said, adding that the hospital has created a behavioral response team comprising people with training to de-escalate conflict and is developing a "risk assessment tool" to better identify patients and situations that may turn violent.

Ms. Berini said additional security measures will be rolled out during the next few months, including a "panic button" type device enabling nurses to summon help and the hiring of a consultant to help identify technology upgrades Penn State Hershey can make to improve security.

"I believe they are moving in the right direction," a hospital nurse who is part of the institution's security committee told Penn Live. "They are looking to us for our input, and they are looking to make wholesale changes to protect the nurses."

To access the full report, click here.

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