Provo UT Nov 3 2016 Often, all it takes is a little authority to defuse a situation.
That’s what Utah Valley Hospital is relying on. The hospital recently entered a partnership with the Provo Police Department to have an armed officer there for a shift each day.
It’s been about a month since an officer was added to the emergency department, and already the hospital has seen positive changes.
“We have seen a decrease of the tension in the ER,” said Brian Andreason, director of safety and security at the hospital. “We think some people who come in emotionally charged, when they see the police officer there, it immediately deescalates them.”
The decision came after three years of research, which included an internal study from the Provo hospital looking at the presence of police officers and the number of incidents that occur. The hospital found that Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, which has had officers on duty for years, had less incidents than Utah Valley Hospital.
The study was an eye-opener, Andreason said, but not surprising, given that Utah Valley Hospital has one of the busiest emergency departments in the state.
Emotions run high in the emergency department, where loved ones can get upset that a patient isn’t receiving immediate, or what they think is adequate, attention. Other issues, like tensions between family members, come to the surface during traumatic situations. It’s also not uncommon for law enforcement to bring in patients to get looked at before they are brought to the county jail.
Other patients require extra attention from hospital staff.
“We are seeing more and more issues with psychological issues, with drug issues and with alcohol,” Andreason said.
The officer at the hospital will patrol the emergency department daily and assist the hospital’s security team. The position has started with rotating officers doing one shift a day there, but may grow.
Having an armed officer on site allows police to familiarize themselves with the hospital, which shortens response times, Andreason said.
It’s also anticipated the partnership will strengthen the relationship between the police department and the hospital.
“It can’t help but make it better,” said Capt. John Geyerman, who worked with Andreason for the arrangement.