Friday, October 5, 2012

Univ. of Pittsburgh Medical Center adds armed security

Pittsburgh PA Oct 5 2012 UPMC plans to add armed security guards to its hospitals and redesign the entrance to Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic because of the March 8 shootings that killed a therapist and wounded five in the clinic.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., who started a team to review UPMC security, told municipal officials that the hospital system committed $10 million to upgrades. Zappala plans on Tuesday to discuss his review of the shootings by ex-graduate student John Shick, 30, who opened fire in the Oakland hospital, killing Michael Schaab, 25, of Regent Square, and was fatally shot by University of Pittsburgh police.

They’re committed to creating a state-of-the-art facility to look after the safety and security of not only the patients, but also the staff, said John Hudson, a former Secret Service agent who heads the team.
A memo sent to UPMC employees outlines security changes at facilities that mirror recommendations from Zappalas team.
UPMC officials would not say how much they are spending for the security overhaul but acknowledged the changes will include the use of Tasers, permanent security posts in all hospital lobbies and a redesign of the entrances at Western Psych.

UPMC will place at least one armed officer during all shifts at its hospitals in Allegheny County and UPMC Hamot in Erie, according to a memo to employees obtained by the Tribune-Review.
The memo said armed officers will be trained and licensed to carry firearms. UPMC will consider placing armed officers at other hospitals on an individual basis. UPMC spokesman Paul Wood did not know whether the plan will involve hiring officers.
Zappala said last month that UPMC was considering forming a police department in response to the Western Psych shootings and to the kidnapping of a newborn from Magee-Womens Hospital, another UPMC facility in Oakland.

Some officers will carry Tasers as a further deterrent to potential incidents,รข€ the memo said. Full-time security officers will wear protective vests.
The beefed-up measures will be felt in all UPMC emergency rooms in Allegheny County, where officials will install walk-through magnetometers. Security officers will search all bags, backpacks and purses.

UPMC will redesign Western Psychs DeSoto Street entrance for patients and visitors. The hospitals main OHara Street entrance will become an employee-only entrance. There will be an armed University of Pittsburgh officer at that entrance 24 hours a day, UPMC spokeswoman Gloria Kreps said.
Wood said some of the changes will occur immediately but could not provide a specific timeline. Officials are in the process of evaluating security measures at UPMCs nonhospital facilities.
The memo said existing measures meet industry standards but opportunities to enhance security were identified.

Hudson said his recommendations include separate entrances for staff and visitors at Western Psych, an improved camera system and requiring both a badge and a code to access certain areas. He plans to submit his final recommendations to Zappala in two weeks.
Both security teams have been working very well together, Hudson said.
Zappala spoke on Friday at the Fall Conference of Townships, Boroughs & Authorities at Seven Springs. Grace Stanko, a Ross commissioner who attended the conference, said Zappala and Hudson gave a detailed presentation of UPMCs planned security upgrade.
It truly is really sad we have to do these things today, Stanko said. You used to be able to go to the hospital and not have to worry about getting shot.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said it will not fine UPMC in connection with the Western Psych shootings.
Hudson, president of consulting firm J.P. Hudson & Associates, said his recommendations include adding a metal detector, X-ray machine, armed guard and lockdown mechanism to a separate visitor entrance at Western Psych. An improved camera and video surveillance system would allow law enforcement to tap into the feed, Hudson said.
They can pull it up on a laptop, he said. ?They can determine which way to come in, where the actor is, things like that.
Hudson said that his focus has been UPMC facilities with a behavioral health unit and that he has not reviewed Magee. In August, police charged Breona Moore, 19, in the abduction of a 3-day-old baby from the maternity ward. Police caught Moore in a Downtown building and recovered the child.

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