Kaweah Delta Medical Center begins ER security screenings

January 7, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Starting Monday, patients who check into emergency rooms will have to undergo beefed up security.

Celeste Rapolla-Miranda was among the first batch of families to get wanded by security guards at Kaweah Delta Medical Center before being allowed to visit her sick father.

Rapolla-Miranda said, "Up front it's a bit of an inconvenience but the way things are today should something happen later on the first question people ask is 'why they weren't doing this?'"

Hospital guards implemented new security measures in response to requests from staff members and patients.

"The emergency department is a place where people come they are not coming to seek care in a planned fashion so it's a high anxiety, high stress environment," Dan Allain said. "We are definitely not an airport. We are not doing the TSA type of screening but again we really want to focus on a safe environment."

Every patient and family member who walks into these doors at the emergency center will be screened.

Anyone carrying weapons including, guns, knives and pepper spray won't be allowed to take them in.

Allain said, "Our policy is the only people who can carry guns into the building are law enforcement, anyone else will be asked to take the gun back to your car and secure it."

If a patient has a serious medical emergency, they will be screened after check in. And if that person is carrying the weapon, guards will hold them until they're discharged.

Hospital workers say the stepped up security is not in response to an increase in violence but a preventative measure.

On the first day of screening, staff members say the response was overwhelmingly positive.

"Ultimately the goal is worth it," Rapolla-Miranda said. "It protects everybody coming in and out of the hospital."