PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — One week after a security guard was fatally shot near the birthing unit inside Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center, more than 100 people rallied outside the Northwest Portland facility to highlight their safety concerns.
Around 11 a.m. July 22, security guard Bobby Smallwood was shot to death by a man who fled the hospital and was later killed by officers during a traffic stop in Gresham. Smallwood, 44, was initially treated at Legacy Good Sam before being rushed to a nearby trauma center, where he died.
“Bobby Smallwood should not have had to give his life,” nurse Bobbi Sue McCollum said Saturday. “We all knew that one metal detector that is sometimes staffed at one entrance isn’t enough. We all knew that chronically being short-staffed with security isn’t enough. We said it multiple times and no one listened.”
Among the safety issues employees want added are metal detectors and security at all entrances, security guards around-the-clock, restricted access to parking garages and a zero-tolerance policy regarding threatening behavior toward staff or patients.
Throughout the week, various Legacy Health employees addressed their safety concerns with the media. One nurse told KOIN 6 News her safety fears were compounded by several instances where she was told only one security guard was working that shift or found no one staffing the metal detector at the emergency department entrance.
“It was alarmingly frequent that no one was at the metal detector. They had the doors open so you could just bypass it,” she said.
“This is not part of our job. Dying, or being assaulted is not part of our job, whether you’re a nurse, or security,” nurse Jennifer Suarez told KOIN 6 News on Saturday. “We’re here to help you. We’re here to take care of you. We are not here to be your punching bag and it needs to end.”
Healthcare workers in and outside the Legacy Health system said the safety issues are only growing.
“I’ve had a gun shoved in my face. I’ve had a knife shoved in my face. I’ve been kicked, I’ve been punched, spit at, not just from patients but family members,” Kaiser nurse Rhonda said Saturday. “It needs to be like an airport. We need to have TSA security here.”
Another Kaiser nurse, Hilda, said these issues shouldn’t only be heard about when someone dies. “We’re coming here to take care of people. We shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not we’re going to get to go home to our families.”
Legacy Health response
In a statement on Saturday, Legacy Health officials told KOIN 6 News:
“At the heart of Legacy Health is our incredible team, and their health, safety, and well-being are of utmost importance to us. As we provide unwavering support to them during these challenging times, we are exploring additional ways to strengthen our protocols and to continue to meet the highest standards of safety and security to protect our people, our patients and our community. We welcome and appreciate input from our valued team members and recognize that this is a milestone that needs to be acknowledged with respect and compassion.”
They also posted on open letter on their website announcing the “three actions we will take immediately.” They are: install metal detectors with bag search at every Legacy hospital; install bullet-slow film on the hospital main entrances and emergency departments and on glass in internal entrances; and provide “our lead security officers with Tasers and will expand the use of Tasers to all security officers who have completed training and certification.”
Smallwood’s co-worker, Dylan, told KOIN 6 News Smallwood was always around to help. “I am so saddened he’s gone. He was such a great person, and this is terrible. We need to have change.”