Security measures taken at hospitals in diocese


A man stepped onto the campus of Mercy Hospital in Chicago on Nov. 20 and opened fire on his former girlfriend before turning the gun on others, killing the woman, a police officer and a bystander. The gunman also died at the scene.

Considering this recent shooting, the Catholic hospitals in the Diocese of Sioux City weighed in about security and safety measures taken at their own facilities.

Avera Holy Family, Estherville

Matt Dalen, facility operations manager at Avera Holy Family in Estherville, explained this campus has locked or secure access at all entrances “along with extensive video surveillance that monitors our entrances and other areas of our facility. Our local law enforcement provides us with 24-7 emergency coverage when security is needed in addition to our in-house staff.”

Not only is every entrance to the facility being monitored by a security camera system the waiting rooms, elevator, lobby and all patient care corridors are also monitored.

“Patient visitors are to check in at our ward clerk station,” said Dalen. “Our OB area is locked down at all times and visitors are restricted. Any visitors of our OB department are required to sign in and wear a visitor tag to enter the area.”

He noted having security measures in order is important because it helps to provide a safe and secure environment for patients, visitors and staff.

If the Avera Holy Family campus was ever in an active shooter situation, Dalen explained, “our policy is to immediately notify local law enforcement and lock down our facility to keep the shooter contained to a certain area. All staff are to move away from the affected area as quickly as possible to a safe location.”

Mercy Medical Center – Sioux City

Mercy Medical Center – Sioux City is staffed by guards 24 hours a day who monitor the hospital and the adjourning facilities, noted Brent Belding, security manager at Mercy.

Every entrance of the hospital is secured. Belding shared the example that after 9 p.m., “the only entrance available to the public is the Emergency Room door. This allows us to monitor access through the evening and early hours when not as many staff are on call.”

“Patients are allowed family and friends as visitors,” said the security manager. “There are posted visiting hours that we ask visitors adhere to. However, in the evening, a guard monitors the flow of traffic in and out of the facility through the Emergency Room door.”

At this time, visitors are not asked to sign in or wear a visitor name tag. Belding pointed out this is something the hospital is considering for the future.

“Security measures are important to Mercy for the safety of patients, visitors and employees of our facilities,” he said. “We take security very seriously and have plans in place for any event.”

In the event of an incident, Mercy Medical has a plan in place and our employees are aware of their procedures.

“At Mercy, our employees go through training,” said Belding. “We try to consider any possible scenario and utilize that as a training opportunity. Our guards go through specialized training to help keep Mercy Medical Center a safe environment.”

St. Anthony Regional Hospital, Carroll

According to Matt Bonham, director of maintenance at St. Anthony Regional Hospital in Carroll, the hospital provides “training to the necessary personnel and drills on different scenarios regularly to promote awareness and security.”

The hospital also has security cameras on campus that are monitored 24/7.

“Security is important to protect our patients, staff and visiting public,” said Bonham.

In the case of an active shooter situation, the necessary personnel at the hospital have been trained, he added.

“We continue to evaluate our policy and its effectiveness,” said the director of maintenance. “We believe we have a policy that will protect as many people as possible in the event we have an active shooter.”

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