One of Erie's hospitals is keeping patients and staff safer. UPMC Hamot is the first in the area to install metal detectors at the entrance to their Emergency Room.
UPMC Hamot and the Erie Police Department frequently team up.
"Any kind of a criminal action over there, the security's gonna call us right away," said Lt. Stan Green of the Erie Police Department.
The hospital works closely with the police department both when victims of violence come into the hospital, and when violence erupts on site.
The metal detector is a new element that benefits the relationship between the two, and helps them work together more efficiently.
"It's every important because one, we wanna keep violence out of here, we don't want violence in the emergency department at all," said Dr. Fred Mirarchi, Medical Director of the Department of Emergency Medicine. "Number two, it helps us build a better relationship with the police force and the Erie Police Department by us conversing when we do happen to find items."
Now every person who walks into the ER must first walk through the detector.
If you set it off, you get a diligent check, and potentially dangerous items like guns or knives are kept in a locker until you leave.
It's part of UPMC's corporate effort to make its facilities safer, especially in cases where victims of outside violence are brought into the hospital.
"Whenever we have a trauma involving either a knife or a gun violence then we essentially lock the institution down, lock the emergency department down and people need to be screened coming in and out, because there are times when perpetrators may actually be coming to look for that particular individual that was wounded," Mirarchi explained.
"There has been a level of retaliation in these incidents, and obviously Hamot hospital... they're our main trauma unit where most of these shotgun victims go after these incidents occur," said Green, "so they want to feel safe, their employees want to feel safe, other individuals going to that hospital want to feel safe."
You don't have to worry about the new security measure adding more time to that dreaded ER waiting room.
"It should not make the waiting time a little longer, people are effectively being screened through the process very quickly, if people cooperate its not a problem," said Mirarchi. "It's a new process for this community so I'm hoping the community embraces this and realizes this is for their safety and the safety of our patients in the institution."
Right now UPMC Hamot doesn't have any official plans to add metal detectors at other entrances.
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