Security cameras have been installed in the Accident and Emergency Department at the Cayman Islands Hospital.
The new security measures are part of a comprehensive plan, said acting Health Services Authority CEO Shirline Henriques.
‘One of the things we had approved by our board is the entire security plan, which will change the way we handle security throughout the hospital,’ she said.
Cameras will eventually be placed through the entire hospital to monitor all corridors and doors, Mrs. Henriques said.
‘We are looking at the safety of all our staff and clients,’ she said.
The cameras will be installed throughout the year and the entire security plan should be implemented by the end of the year.
Last month the HSA announced it would crack down on abuse of staff by patients and visitors.
Under the new zero-tolerance policy, any verbal or physical abuse of hospital staff by patients or visitors to any HSA facility could result in the withholding of treatment — except for emergency care — or possible arrest.
The hospital has already augmented the security staff.
‘We have increased the number of our security staff by four and there is a proposal to increase it again starting July, in the next financial year,’ Mrs. Henriques said.
There are 12 full-time and two part-time security personnel, with three or four staff on duty for each shift, Mrs. Henriques explained.
Another change planned is to make the atrium at the front of the hospital the point of entry for visitors.
She explained the plan involves the containment of that area, making it a regular security checkpoint.
‘After a certain hour at night, it will be locked off like any other hospital in the world. Then the point of entry would be through the A&E,’ Mrs. Henriques said.
She explained that the cut off would most likely remain 8 pm, as it is now, after which only staff and certain visitors, such as those for women in labour and critically ill patients, would be allowed entry.
One other change in the works is the use of swipe cards by staff. Special strips will be added to the staff identification cards and employees will need to swipe the cards upon entering and leaving the hospital.
The changes will not be made all at once.
‘They have to be phased in. We have to look at costing,’ she said.
Pastor Al Ebanks, chairman of the board of the HSA, said safety remains an ongoing issue.
‘We want to make sure our clients and our staff are always safe and we will take any steps we deem necessary to ensure their safety.
‘Particularly in the emergency room, some of the staff have been physically assaulted. It’s a very difficult position for professionals to do their job in those kinds of situations,’ Mr. Ebanks said.
Security needs will be constantly re-evaluated along with how to provide maximum security, he said.
Mr. Ebanks added that there have been discussions with the police on the situation.
In addition, the hospital will soon post notices outlining behaviour that will be considered criminal and result in police being called.