Atrium Health plans to increase the number of armed security guards at its facilities in September.
The goal will be to have “an armed presence on every shift at many of its locations,” the company announced this week. The moves come after Atrium established a special committee to review security.
Visitors to some Atrium Health facilities also will be required to pass through metal detectors and check-in at the lobby.
Metal detectors will be installed at Atrium’s Carolinas Medical Center emergency department, Behavioral Health-Charlotte and Behavioral Health-Davidson, the company said.
Atrium said it plans to reduce the number of access points at its facilities by 45 percent.
In addition, nearly 9,000 employees will receive security training.
“Our goal driving this work is simple – to keep the people in our care, and the people providing that care, safe,” said Maureen Swick, who oversees Atrium’s security operations.
Area hospitals have had security incidents over the past year.
Last year, a family member of a patient being treated at Carolinas Medical Center barricaded a room.
The incident involved a mother who did not want her son to undergo surgery as hospital staff had recommended, another family member with knowledge of the incident told the Observer at the time. The mother put a bed against the door to prevent personnel from entering the room, the family member said.
In another incident last year, police shot and killed a 76-year-old Hurricane Irma evacuee who fired his gun in his Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center hospital room.
A nurse came to the patient’s room around 11:30 p.m. on Sept. 10 and saw him pull a gun out of his suitcase, according to investigation records. She ran away from the room and was returning with a security guard when she heard a gunshot, the records said.
Novant Health’s acute care hospitals in North Carolina have armed public safety teams, according to Novant. Novant’s facilities require check-in after regular hours and Novant staff use hand-held metal detectors as needed. Novant is Charlotte’s other major hospital system.