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Weapons in hospital issue before trustees

— As with many school districts and other public entities, Syringa Hospital is no exception when it comes to how to move forward with gun and other deadly weapon issues within the confines of its facilities.

The board discussed a written policy at its Aug. 22 meeting and, as has been the case in other local arenas, the conversation brought out varied opinions.

A reworked written policy states, “Unfortunately, Idaho law limits the hospital’s ability to prohibit weapons all together.” In addition, under procedures, it states, “If a person refuses to relinquish weapons they may be escorted from the hospital for refusal to comply.”

“It’s insulting to ask our patrons to turn in their firearms,” trustee Twila Hornbeck of Grangeville said.

“I disagree,” answered Lauren Wilson, director of quality and risk management, who brought the policy to the board for review.

“If I were asked if I have a weapon, I would say no – but I do have a pocketknife, which [to me] is a tool, not a weapon,” commented trustee Steve Didier of Kooskia, reading the policy.

Trustee Al Bolden of White Bird agreed there needs to be a written policy, as “it could limit our liability,” should anything happen, he said.

“It’s the responsible thing to have a weapons policy,” he said. “But the verbiage definitely needs to be worked on.”

The policy also states nurses will ask patrons to remove weapons when they check in. A discussion ensued about why this would not happen immediately in admissions; however, admissions is not open 24-7 like emergency is.

“If nurses are asked to do this, we need to make sure they are trained in de-escalation techniques,” trustee Paula Calceterra of Harpster said.

Trustee Judy Scribner of Grangeville said she read a sign at Gritman [Medical Center] that she liked: “We respectfully request, for the safety of our patients, no deadly weapons be brought into our facility.”

Board chair Craig Spencer remained thoughtfully quiet during the front end of the conversation, then said, “this is a very sticky issue. We have to keep in mind we are serving patients as well as providing for the safety of our nurses, doctors and other staff, too.”

“We can help write our own policy the way we want it to be,” he continued, “but we also must meet the legal requirements [within the written policy] to keep our liability insurance.”

The board agreed to continue to seek legal counsel as well as check in with other hospitals on what their policies are and make their own notes to return to Wilson.


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