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“Hospitals should be a safe space for healing, not senseless violence”

30 Jul 2023

A message from our CEO

By: Cheryl Nester Wolfe, RN, President and CEO

The shooting at Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland last weekend left me heartbroken and angry. Hospitals should be a safe space for healing, not senseless violence that results in the loss of life. Our hearts go out to our friends and colleagues at Legacy.

Earlier this year, I shared our enhanced work addressing harmful words and actions. For too many years, our employees and providers have accepted physical and verbal violence as part of the job. At the time, I said this is no more, no longer. Employees and providers are encouraged and expected to report harmful words and actions of any kind. While this work has been effective, it is not enough.

Workplace violence is five to six times more prevalent in health care than any other industry, according to the Bureau of Labor and Industry. We must do more to protect our employees, our providers and our patients. The harsh reality of an active shooter is that there are limited ways to mitigate risks when an individual is bent on mass destruction. But we are committed to preventing tragedies like what occurred in Portland this weekend. I am working directly with our front line security staff to understand their experience and needs to assure a safe working environment. Some of their feedback requires additional research and we will be bringing in outside experts to assist us in this endeavor. Others can be addressed immediately, like body armor, which I approved on Tuesday, July 25.

While our improvement work is underway, I am asking for your help. Please be vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Report suspicious behavior by calling Security at 503-814-0911. One area we can all improve upon is by monitoring our secure entrances. Our team works hard to control access to our buildings, but visitors often “tail gate,” following an employee or provider through a secure, badge access-only entrance. If this occurs, please ask the individual for a badge. If they do not have one, please politely direct them to the main entrance by emergency department or the designated entry of the building they are attempting to enter. I understand that this can feel like poor customer service, but the benefit of increased security outweighs the inconvenience of a few more steps.

Finally, I encourage you to take care of yourself and others as we process this devastating tragedy at Legacy. It is very, very close to home. Do not hesitate to speak up and ask for help — from a colleague, loved one or peer support. We must stand together in support of one another and against violence, wherever it occurs.