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Safety and Security in the Healthcare Industry: Our Response

Safety and Security in the Healthcare Industry: Our Response

Statement from Norman Regional President and CEO, Richie Splitt, regarding the state of safety and security in the healthcare industry and Norman Regional:

Our deepest condolences are with the Saint Francis Health System family as they mourn the loss of three team members and one patient. What happened was a horrible act of violence against healthcare workers. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families, as well as our healthcare colleagues in the Saint Francis Health System.

For more than two years, healthcare workers have been steadfastly serving on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19, doing all they can to care for patients, comfort families, and protect communities. While the nation may be rounding the corner on COVID-19, the healthcare workforce continues to contend with many immediate challenges related to the pandemic, and a healthcare landscape that has been deeply altered. The recent Tulsa attack is one more example of senseless violence in our country, and this tragedy occurred inside a place of healing. In the days, weeks and months ahead we will learn more as the details of this tragedy emerge. During that time we want our employees (who we call healers), our patients and the community to know safety is a priority within our system. Our safety and security team proactively focuses on armed intruder trainings and exercises at both the health system organizational level as well as department level. This training is in conjunction with our local law enforcement agency partners. Norman Regional Health System does not allow firearms on premises at its locations. Because violence is a serious safety issue for communities and hospitals across the United States, health leaders have long had robust protocols in place to detect and deter violence against our healers. Since the onset of the pandemic, however, violence against hospital employees has markedly increased. Some studies indicate that 44% of nurses report experiencing physical violence, and 68% report experiencing verbal abuse during the pandemic.

To address these challenges, hospitals are taking more direct and determined action - raising risk awareness, assisting with wider information-sharing, and investing in security and surveillance and alert notifications. We must no longer tolerate abusive behavior in our healthcare systems that can lead to these types of tragic events.

Norman Regional Health System supports the American Hospital Association’s petition to the U.S. Attorney General to support legislation which would create federal protections from intimidation and assault for healthcare workers. People who dedicate themselves to saving lives deserve a safe environment, free of violence and intimidation. As a health system we must work together with our elected officials, our communities, and our partner agencies to solve this crisis. We cannot change this alone.

Moving forward, there will be unexpected challenges for the Saint Francis Health System and the Tulsa community. Let us remember the victims and their families as well as those who served alongside the victims of this traumatic and senseless event. We hope and pray the caregivers of Saint Francis Health System and the community of Tulsa find strength through their recovery process. Norman Regional Health System stands in unity and strength with Saint Francis Health System caregivers.