UK HealthCare spending $5 million on security upgrades, setting new policies amid gun violence at health facilities in other states

The University of Kentucky is bolstering security at health-care campuses “in response to increasing reports of violence taking place across the nation in health-care settings,” a news release said Friday.

UK said its police began using handheld metal detectors on all patients and visitors entering emergency departments in April 2021, followed by installation of fixed metal detectors in July 2021. Other recent measures include having at least one police officer at each of the emergency departments around the clock.
The release said UK will spend $5 million on health-care safety, including:
  • Addition of electronic access control to all perimeter doors to restrict public access as well as replacement and modernization of aged entryways.
  • Utilization of emerging technology to enhance threat detection and expanding panic alarms and lockdown capabilities.
  • Increased security camera coverage to improve situational awareness.
  • Addition of UK Blue emergency towers to walkways where staff and patients travel frequently.
  • Enhancement of exterior lighting to improve visibility around UK HealthCare facilities.

At a virtual forum for UK HealthCare employees, Executive Vice President for Health Affairs Mark Newman and UK Police Chief Joe Monroe discussed their efforts to improve the safety and security of employees, patients and visitors.

“We also are researching better ways to make UK HealthCare a weapons-free location through screening technology and looking at strategic efforts to increase dedicated police presence on the UK HealthCare campus,” Monroe said.

The moves were announced in the wake of the June 1 killings of four people at a Tulsa hospital by man who blamed his doctor for pain after back surgery and also killed himself, but the news release said UK Police have worked for a year with a security consultant on the first phase of a continuing security review “with an initial focus on enhancing perimeter security and fortifying the emergency departments at UK Chandler Hospital and UK Good Samaritan Hospital,” the news release said.

“Hospital trauma departments are on the front lines whenever there’s a mass shooting, but when those spaces are targeted, staff must mobilize to not only protect their patients but themselves,” Axios Vitals reports. “And yet, efforts to fortify health facilities could also conflict with their traditional roles as community resources and safe spaces.

Axios Vitals notes that “From 2010 to 2020, shootings resulted in 39 deaths at health-care facilities accredited by the Joint Commission. From 2000 to 2011, researchers found there were 154 hospital-related shootings in the U.S. A survey from the American College of Emergency Physicians in 2018 concluded that nearly half of emergency- room doctors have been assaulted at work.”

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