April 24, 2024

A legacy of health workers concerned about their safety

Security guard Bobby Smallwood was shot to death on Saturday

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — After the shooting death of a security guard at Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center, staff said they had been concerned about his safety for several years.

Guard Bobby Smallwood was shot on the 5th floor next to the birth unit at a a man known as PoniaX Kane Calles. Smallwood was initially treated at the hospital before being taken to a trauma center in Portland, where he succumbed to his wounds.

Workers who spoke to KOIN 6 News said they have been concerned about security guard staffing for several years as well as concerns about metal detectors, staffing of the metal detectors and bag searches.

“We’ve been saying it for years,” one employee told KOIN 6 News. “We are saying it was never if but when and please get us more security. “

These Legacy employees—who don’t work at Good Samaritan but know others who know them—have similar concerns when they meet at other company trainings and events.

After an increase in threats against health care workers during the pandemic, they are still waiting for changes.

Legacy Health has a strict policy about their employees speaking to the media. KOIN 6 News wishes to anonymize their voices and will not be named in this report.

“I think most of us feel like we’re screaming for help in a black vacuum because it’s not heard, or some people listen to it and then it’s stopped, but what shouldn’t happen doesn’t happen,” said one Legacy Health employee.

They feel that management at hospital level takes the concerns seriously and that managers are working to resolve them. But it’s the speed and ability of Legacy Health as a whole to make changes that matter.

This employee stated that the violence prevention training from management at the hospital level is appreciated.

“I am here because I believe in Heritage. I wouldn’t be if I didn’t. I am here because this system has an opportunity and opportunity to lead the industry,”

Other hospitals, unions share ideas

A 2022 study on Workplace Safety & Health revealed that a significant number of hospital nurses reported experiencing increased physical violence and verbal abuse from patients, families and visitors compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Last year, police responded to 250 incidents at Legacy Good Samaritan within the past year, the Bureau of Emergency Communications told KOIN 6 News.

Security guard staffing and security practices are a concern throughout Oregon, union leaders said.

In a statement, the Oregon Nurses Association Said, “Taking workplace safety seriously seems like more than just installing a metal detector and leaving it unmanned.”

They listed 7 things as necessary: ​​Hiring nurses and frontline health care workers, screening all patients and visitors, ensuring the entire facility has adequate security staff, taking threats of verbal violence seriously, developing unit-specific assessments and policies, increased reporting and transparency for all workers, and de-escalation and crisis intervention training.

“Finally,” the statement said, “health care workers who experience workplace violence must be supported by their hospitals by providing paid time off, access to mental health support, and reassignment if necessary.”

Other hospital responses

OHSU said, in part:

“The OHSU Department of Public Safety is closely monitoring the incident at Good Samaritan and remains committed to protecting OHSU healthcare professionals, patients and staff. The department regularly assesses our policies and procedures to ensure the safety of everyone seeking and providing care at OHSU.”

Providence said, in part:

“Our security officers are trained in the use of Tasers. We will have completed the deployment of these devices to all Providence officers in Oregon by the end of this month. Over the past year, we have installed metal detectors at the emergency department entrances at Providence Portland and Providence St. We have identified these as the areas of greatest need, based on the number of patients and visitors that come through those doors. Additionally, Providence Portland has two new K-9 teams in place.

Officials with Kaiser Permanente were not available for comment.

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