SOUTHBRIDGE, MA, June 4, 2018 – It took just three weeks after the events of June 14, 2017 for Harrington to be the first hospital in the Commonwealth to install metal detectors at its Southbridge and Webster Emergency Department (ED) entrances.
The decision was made after long-time Harrington Nurse Elise Wilson was randomly stabbed by a patient in the Southbridge Emergency Department triage room. The event not only shook the Harrington staff and community but rippled across the industry nationwide, as workplace violence and vulnerable frontline healthcare providers became the focus of many conversations.
Wilson survived, thanks to the quick and competent work by Harrington Emergency Department physicians, nurses, staff and Southbridge Fire and EMS personnel, in addition to the professional medical providers at UMass. Within a few weeks, Wilson went on to be a spokesperson for nurse and workplace safety, being interviewed by local and national television shows.
A year later, Harrington and UMass are the only central Massachusetts organizations to have metal detectors in place within their EDs, and potentially the only two in the state, based on research local media has conducted.
The metal detectors are just one element that makes up a well-rounded approach to workplace violence prevention the healthcare system has worked hard to implement over the past year.
“Our employees’, visitors’ and patients’ safety and security are a top priority. We are continuously improving our systems and processes to provide secure and practical solutions,” said Harry Lemieux, Harrington’s vice president of support services and chief information.
The organization has installed panic buttons and alarm systems at almost all its off-site locations. In addition, Harrington installed more security cameras, increased the number of areas within the hospital that are card-access only and has collaborated with local municipalities on training for aggressive behavior.
Other measures over the past year include progressive training for the Harrington’s Public Safety Department, who now wear new uniforms and carry handcuffs. The Public Safety Department has also increased the number of staff per shift.
Harington has hosted several visits and served as a resource to hospitals throughout the Commonwealth and beyond who have expressed interest in enhancing security measures.
Last December, Lemieux represented Harrington as the keynote speaker at the Boston Chapter of the International Association for Healthcare Safety and Security (IAHSS) hosted at Newton Wellesley Hospital. At the conference, Lemieux shared Harrington’s experiences and outlined the various enhancements implemented across the healthcare system.
Harrington will commemorate the events of last summer by recognizing Elise Wilson, and members of the Harrington family, at a ceremony Thursday, June 14, one year to the day of the 2017 attack, at its Southbridge campus. The brief program is expected to begin at 11 a.m. outside the Southbridge Emergency Department.