Meritus Medical Center adds additional security, safety protocols

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HAGERSTOWN, Md. – In an effort to provide a safer environment for healing and medical care, officials at Meritus Medical Center have added increased security measures, including weapon detectors at all public entrances.

“Just as it is our responsibility to provide high quality healthcare, it is our responsibility to ensure our patients, visitors and our dedicated team members are all in a safe environment,” explained Meritus Medical Center Chief Operating Officer, Carrie Adams, Pharm.D. “Meritus Medical Center, like hospitals across Maryland and the United States has noticed increased episodes of violence against healthcare workers.”

Adams said teams at Meritus Medical Center have endured increased episodes verbal abuse, including profanity and discriminatory remarks as well as physical violence over the past two years. In some instances, workers were physically injured by their patients or visitors.

In fall 2022, the American Hospital Association reported that healthcare workers suffer more workplace injuries because of violence than any other profession, and that 44% of nurses have reported an increase in physical violence since the onset of the COVID pandemic.

The Maryland Hospital Association reports that many Maryland hospitals have protocols and resources to identify and de-escalate potentially violent situations. Additionally, MHA reports 88% of all hospital assaults were a visitor, family or patient against a healthcare worker.

“Safety is our priority,” Adams said. “When we realized this wasn’t one or two isolated incidents, but a growing trend here and across the nation, we knew it was time to be more proactive in how we protect our patients, visitors and team members.”

In addition to the weapon detectors, Adams said Meritus Medical Center has reduced the number of public entry points, trained staff in de-escalation techniques, and established a Workplace Violence Committee to review events and consider opportunities to enhance safety.

Meritus Health implemented a zero-tolerance policy to protect our team and care providers. If violence is directed at our team members those involved will be asked to leave and a law enforcement report filed.

Additionally, she said Meritus Medical Center’s Security Officers are working directly with an on-site deputy from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, in addition to enhancing their presence and protocols.

“Being on the frontlines trying to keep our neighbors and their families safe and healthy, should not mean our team members also have to worry about physical or verbal violence,” she said.