Chicago hospitals review safety policies ahead of new law

CHICAGO — A Chicago Tribune report reveals how hospitals in the city are reviewing their safety strategies following the deadly shooting at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center.

On Nov. 19, Juan Lopez shot and killed three people, outside and inside the hospital, before killing himself.

Hospitals have already been preparing to meet requirements set by a new law that takes effect in 2019. That law requires violence prevention training and risk assessments of facilities.

The law was a response to an incident where nurses were taken hostage and assaulted by a patient at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital in Geneva.

Two state lawmakers say they want to bring back failed legislation that would require hospitals, and other public spaces, to use metal detectors.

“When you go to the airport, you automatically know you better not bring a gun,” said State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford. “We just have to know what type of society we’re living in right now. No one likes going through metal detectors … but it is something that’s probably going to become the norm for public spaces. We should be on the forefront of this.”

Most hospitals are avoiding metal detectors, but they are adding security guards, shooter drills, and deescalation training.

Amita Health plans to provide more in person training at its 19 hospitals.

Advocate Aurora Health says it is accelerating its safety training and refresher training at all its facilities in Illinois and Wisconsin. That includes requiring all employees to complete an active shooter response class online.

Mount Sinai Hospital has been using metal detectors since last year.

“It takes seconds for someone to walk through the detectors; critical patients coming in on stretchers bypass the devices, and instead their belongings are checked if deemed necessary,” said Michele Mazurek, chief nursing officer and vice president of patient care services.