News Local

NHH boosts security in wake of shootings

By Valerie MacDonald, Northumberland Today

The front entrance to Northumberland Hills Hospital in Cobourg.
PETE FISHER/Northumberland Today

The front entrance to Northumberland Hills Hospital in Cobourg. PETE FISHER/Northumberland Today

COBOURG -- More than a week after a husband and wife were shot and killed in the emergency department of Cobourg's Northumberland Hills Hospital (NHH), patients and volunteers are mindful of the events but are continuing to go into the health care facility as needed.

Former OPP officer John Cartwright has been a volunteer at NHH for six years.

"I considered the situation initially," he said, -¦ but will continue to volunteer."

The familiar faces of other hospital volunteers were also evident at the main entrance of NHH on Monday afternoon.

While at least one patient who had been to the emergency department said they were very aware of the shooting tragedy that is under investigation by both police and the special investigation unit (SEIU has special duties during such incidents involving police and fatalities), they also said they never considered going elsewhere for care.

"When you need it, you use it," said the person who asked not to be identified.

The hospital, meantime, has announced it is adding dedicated security guard coverage (24/7) to its emergency department, although it was not evident on Monday afternoon.

-¦With the support of our existing security provider, G4S, 24/7 security guard coverage dedicated to the NHH Emergency Department (ED) will be in place this month," hospital spokesperson Jennifer Gillard stated in an e-mail interview when asked about when this extra security would be in place.

"The dedicated Emergency Department security guards will have the highest level of training available in private security protection."

The hospital is also working with local police to learn what do to when a gun or other weapon comes into NHH, Gillard stated.

"A commitment to develop new joint training for staff with local police has been made, and planning is under way.

"This will focus on what to do to minimize risk if a weapon is discovered in the hospital."

Gillard also noted that "private security guards were in place at NHH prior to the incident on Oct. 27, including a guard on site that night" of the fatal double shooting.

An NHH media release also states that it will assist other hospitals, and some have been in touch.

"Other hospitals interested in learning from NHH's experience for their own policies and practices have also reached out to NHH. The hospital will share the lessons learned in the weeks and months ahead."

Following the double shooting at NHH's emergency department, Cornerstone Family Violence Prevention Centre issued a media release identifying the incident as one of domestic abuse (although the police have not formally characterized it as this) and linking it to Women Abuse Prevention Month this November.

Cornerstone executive director Nancy Johnston states in the release: "To end family violence, it is imperative to bring the issue further into the open, and let go of the stereotypes and misconceptions that allow people to believe it couldn't happen to them, or here in Northumberland County."

vmacdonald@postmedia.com