Northwell Health has added armed guards outside two of its hospitals as part of a pilot program to deal with active shooting situations and is planning to expand the program across all its centers within the year.
Armed guards were first added to Manhasset’s North Shore University Hospital in March, and more were placed at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park last week.
Although Northwell facilities are safe, Scott Strauss, Northwell’s assistant vice president of security who also serves as the mayor of Mineola, said Northwell is getting ahead of the issue.
“We see the news, we all see what’s happening, whether it’s school or workplace shootings, active shooting situations are happening all around the country,” Straus said. “… We decided to be proactive.”
Northwell also noticed an uptick in violence in the healthcare industry, Strauss said, noting a shooting last July at the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center in Bronx.
A doctor returned to his former workplace and shot at seven people, killing one, according to the New York Times.
“Any time there’s an incident that happens around the nation or around the world in healthcare, our team gets together and says if it happened here what would we do … how could we prevent it from happening,” Strauss said.
The answer was simple, he said.
“We have highly trained law enforcement working for us, why don’t we tap into that resource and give them the tools that they would need,” Strauss said.
Northwell is only arming officers with a law enforcement background.
Northwell is not disclosing the number of armed guards that will be placed at its hospitals, but the number will vary based on the size of each facility.
The next hospital set to get armed guards is Southside Hospital in Bayshore.
The armed guards just add another level of security, Strauss said.
“You leave us with your most prized possessions, your family members, your loved ones,” Strauss said. “We’re doing everything we can to make sure they are safe in our hospitals.”