Security scanners in place at Stormont Vail emergency entrance

Published: Dec. 5, 2019 at 10:29 PM CST
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You're getting a new greeting at the doors of Stormont Vail's Emergency Department this week. Bag scanners and metal detectors are now in place.

Stormont Vail Emergency Dept. medical director Dr. Sarah Sartain said no specific incident sparked the extra security measures. Instead, it grew from feedback from staff committees.

"We always say that we see people at their worst, specifically in the emergency department, and a lot of times that can trigger a lot of emotion," she said. "In any public institution, where you have high volumes of people fluxing in and out, you have an added risk of not knowing what will walk through the door next.

Topeka isn't alone. The American College of Emergency Physicians, along with the Emergency Nurses Association, recently launched the national

campaign. Their survey found nearly half of emergency physicians and about 70 percent of emergency nurses have been physically assaulted at work.

"Sometimes it can be as simple as a harsh word or a snarky comment, but it can escalate into threats or even physical harm on an individual," Dr. Sartain said..

Stormont's added security goes beyond the ER. Extra cameras are keeping watch; new lighting has brightened the parking structure; and they'll be adding up to 40 people to their security staff.

"These are specialty trained security officers that will be not just walking the perimeter or checking exits and entrances, but even walking the floors, ensuring that our organization is safe at all levels," Dr. Sartain said.

Being proactive takes only a few seconds to not only protect staff - it ensures better care for the public.

"We feel that our community and our patient population can heal best when they're safe and comfortable in their environment - and the same with our staff," Dr. Sartain said. "It allows me to focus on the patient that's in front of me and their overall health versus being concerned about these outside influences or outside threats."

People needing immediate medical attention will be able to skip the scanners.

Stormont plans to eventually expand the security screening to its other entrances as well.