How Bronx-Lebanon is moving forward after tragic shooting
Local hospitals are reviewing and enhancing their security procedures in the aftermath of a shooting last week at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center that resulted in the death of one doctor and injuries to six others.
Dr. Henry Bello, a former physician at the facility, entered the hospital with an AR-15 rifle hidden under a white lab coat, opening fire on the 16th and 17th floors. Bello had resigned after a six-month stint at the hospital following accusations of sexual harassment, according to The New York Times.
The shooting at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center last week highlights the challenge facing hospitals as they weigh accessibility to their community against security concerns, said Jenna Mandel-Ricci, vice president of regulatory and professional affairs at the Greater New York Hospital Association. That trade-off comes into play when hospitals consider whether to install metal detectors in their lobbies.
"Security directors have to walk that balance between remaining an open and inviting place but also maintaining the safety and security of anyone in the building," Mandel-Ricci said. "This is the day you hope never comes to your hospital."
Mandel-Ricci is part of a team at the hospital trade group that disseminates best practices on emergency preparedness and works with law enforcement agencies to coordinate responses on everything from coastal storms to terrorist attacks.
For instance, the Greater New York Hospital Association worked with law enforcement this spring on the Gotham Shield exercises. Participating hospitals discussed how they could prevent, respond to and recover from an improvised nuclear device.
After mass casualty events, like the one in May when a driver in Times Square killed a pedestrian and injured 22 others with his vehicle, GNYHA convenes hospital representatives to discuss how the facilities responded to the emergency and what could be improved. Mandel-Ricci said she plans to ask Bronx-Lebanon officials if they're willing to share their experience with other hospitals.
A Bronx-Lebanon spokesman said staff members were well-trained to respond to the incident. "The security in place was proper and appropriate, but we are evaluating our security, and certainly we will be making refinements if needed. And we are working with the NYPD to review what happened."
The hospital is looking to hire a private security firm to evaluate different ways it can manage people who enter the facility, the spokesman said.
Bronx-Lebanon is providing grief counseling to employees on-site. The NYPD and several labor unions have made their own grief counselors available to Bronx-Lebanon, the spokesman said.
Patrick Meyers, GNYHA's senior project manager for emergency management, said Bronx-Lebanon staff recently underwent training that follows U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommendations that people involved in an active-shooter situation first look to run, then hide—and to fight only if in imminent danger.
Meyers said the NYPD was pleased with how the hospital staff reacted to the mass shooting last week, guiding visitors and barricading themselves in rooms when necessary.
Other local hospital systems told Crain's they were stepping up security efforts or reviewing their current plans.
"In light of the recent tragic events at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital, Mount Sinai has enhanced security at its campuses," a spokeswoman said. "As an added measure, we are currently assessing security protocols with a nationally respected firm."
An NYC Health + Hospitals spokesman said the system is providing "refresher training to staff." He said two safety training sessions held Wednesday were well attended, signaling heightened interest in the topic.
"How Bronx-Lebanon is moving forward after tragic shooting" originally appeared in Crain's New York Business.
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