Personal Safety

How Charlotte's largest health-care providers are upping security

How Charlotte’s largest health-care providers are upping security

– Staff Writer, Charlotte Business Journal Sep 5, 2018, 1:43pm EDT Charlotte’s largest health-care provider is rolling out new security practices this month — practices that will affect employees and visitors alike. Starting in mid-September, Atrium Health is reducing access points to its facilities by 45% and increasing the number of armed security guards at multiple locations. Close to 9,000 employees will also receive training in de-escalation techniques, personal safety tips and active assailant awareness. “Ensuring the safety and security of everyone who walks through our doors is a responsibility we take very seriously. We are continuously analyzing health-care security trends and listening to feedback from our patients and teammates with the goal of making our facilities a leader in security and one of the safest places in our communities,” says Maureen Swick , system nurse executive and executive in charge of Atrium Health’s security operations. Atrium employees will also begin using Everbridge, a mobile notification system that provides real-time emergency information. Health-care workers are four times more likely to be victims of violence in the workplace as compared to employees in a private industry, according to a 2018 report by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. “(They) must be alert and ready to act when they encounter verbal or physical violence — or the potential for violence — from patients or visitors who may be under stress or who may be fragile, yet also volatile,” the report says. All visitors are now required to check in at the reception desk and receive name badges before further entering an Atrium hospital facility. Locations including Behavioral Health-Charlotte, Behavioral Health-Davidson and the emergency department at Carolinas Medical Center will utilize stationary metal detectors. “Our goal driving this work is simple – to keep the people in our care, and the people providing that care, safe,” Swick says. Atrium formed a Workplace Violence Committee last year to assess security measures at its facilities. Novant Health, Charlotte’s second-largest provider, also continually updates its own security practices. Novant’s hospitals and some of its other medical facilities employ armed public-safety teams, including a Community Patrol Unit that provides public safety services, emergency response tactics and risk assessments. Earlier this year, Novant opened a security operations center to dispatch services to all facilities in the system. Some locations hired additional officers as well. “Our goal is to maintain a safe environment without restricting the ability of people to visit their loved ones while in the hospital,” says Robin Baltimore , a spokeswoman for Novant. “Specific areas of our facilities require strict visitor check-ins and screenings regardless of visitation time. However, we require all visitors to check in after regular visiting hours.” Baltimore says Novant uses handheld metal detectors in some locations but does not use stationary detectors at this time. She also notes Novant’s partnership with Atrium to develop the latter’s firearms program. The Atrium network includes more than 40 hospitals and 900 care locations across the Carolinas and Georgia. Winston-Salem-based Novant is comprised of 14 medical centers (one of which is currently under construction) and more than 1,500 physicians in roughly 500 locations in the Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia. Ranked by No. of licensed beds Rank

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