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Salem Health bumps security efforts

02 Jun 2024

Changes include armed staff by next February

By: John Bauer, chief legal officer

We are all aware that violence in health care settings is increasing locally and nationally.


From 2021 to 2022, national gun violence incidents in these settings rose from 9 to 23. Salem Health is committed to the safety of our providers, staff, patients and visitors. That means focused work to prevent gun violence.


Recognizing a need, Salem Health engaged a national security consultant to review every piece of our security program. The consultant made several recommendations based on national best practices, which we have begun to implement. These require a significant investment of capital and human resources -- but we believe it's the right thing to do.


We have closed 102 (43%) of all recommended infrastructure gaps identified by the security consultant. Specific work completed includes unit lockdown functionality added to Building B patient care floors 5 & 6 North, and an updated visitor management software system. 


The overall project is expected to take three years to close all identified infrastructure gaps. 

We have also implemented operational changes, such as changing our security shifts to increase security presence on campus. We have increased our dispatch staffing and other staffing to maintain our security infrastructure. We have also added rover positions to support our weapons detection officers at outpatient clinics. 


The consultant also recommended equipment enhancements, including arming a portion of our security staff with firearms to address the significant rise in gun violence in hospitals. As of 2016, 52% of 340 hospitals surveyed had security officers carrying firearms. Our security team is trained in the use of tasers, a non-lethal force. Security consultants recommend using lethal force to address lethal force. 


We're preparing to arm a portion of our security staff. This major project requires developing polices, training, and infrastructure to store equipment. Our consultant advised the work usually takes up to one and a half years. We are currently working toward a go-live of February 2025.


As we get close to implementation, we will distribute talking points to answer your questions or concerns.