Mountain Health Network hospitals adding weapons detection systems to increase security

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

As part of their commitment to the safety of staff, patients and visitors, Cabell Huntington Hospital (CHH) and St. Mary’s Medical Center (SMMC), members of Mountain Health Network (MHN), have installed weapons detection systems at selected hospital entrances.

The addition of the weapons detection systems is part of MHN’s initiative to address the escalation of violence at health care facilities nationwide.

“We are committed to the safety of our staff, patients and visitors and the installation of these systems is a strong example of that commitment,” said Kevin Yingling, RPh, MD, FACP, MHN CEO. “Our hospitals are places for healing and violence in any form at these facilities is unacceptable.”

The weapons detection systems are similar to those used at public event venues and will allow patients and visitors to pass through the devices without having to empty pockets or handbags. This will allow patients to come into the hospital in a free-flowing manner and will not interfere with medical emergencies.

MHN is in the process of implementing a three-year security master plan to bolster security at all of its facilities. Measures already in place include the addition of signage that aggressive behavior will not be tolerated, staff training on de-escalation tactics and self-defense classes.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the rate of injuries from violent attacks against medical professionals grew by 63% from 2011 to 2018. In a Spring 2022 survey by National Nurses United, the country’s largest RN union, 48% of the more than 2,000 responding nurses reported an increase in workplace violence — more than double the percentage from 2021.