Sentara, Bon Secours bolster security as workplace violence heightens

Norfolk, Va.-based Sentara Healthcare and Cincinnati-based Bon Secours Mercy Health are rolling out extra security measures as violence against employees surges, the Virginian Pilot reported Sept. 18. 

On Sept. 4, Sentara Norfolk (Va.) General Hospital went on lockdown as shooting and trauma victims were transported to the hospital from multiple locations, according to the Pilot. The hospital wanted to ensure that everyone entering had a valid reason to be there, and allocate staff to the correct places during the mass casualty alert. 

Providing the right mixture of a secure yet welcome environment is a "balancing act" for hospitals, Stephen Hollowell, Sentara's security director, told the Pilot. Tensions already run high in hospitals as visitors are worried about loved ones, making them more apt to lash out, he said. 

Sentara hospitals employ specialized units to analyze incidents of violence to recommend prevention tactics and check in with victims to see whether they want to press charges, Mr. Hollowell said. Healthcare security requires a higher skill set than corporate security, which can make hiring difficult, according to Mr. Hollowell. 

Bon Secours Mercy Health has also reassessed its security measures, strengthening partnerships with law enforcement and undergoing violence prevention training, a spokesperson for the health system told the Pilot

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