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Duke Hospitals to Increase Security with Help of New Weapons Detection Systems


Sarah Avery
Sarah Avery
919-724-5343 Email

DURHAM, N.C. – Weapons detection systems will be installed next week at the main public entrances to each of the three Duke University Health System hospitals, including Duke University, Duke Regional and Duke Raleigh hospitals.

The detection systems, similar to those used at public event venues, will provide additional safety and security for patients, visitors and staff members, and are in response to an increase in violence occurring at health care facilities nation-wide.

“We are committed to providing a safe environment for all those we serve,” said Ian Brown, chief employee experience officer at Duke University Health System and executive sponsor of system-wide workplace violence prevention efforts. “As acts of violence in health care settings began escalating, we made a pledge to redouble efforts to address safety. These devices are a direct result of that commitment.”

In recent months, Duke University Health System has: enhanced the security presence at key hospital and clinic locations; provided additional emergency alert support to care teams; posted signage that aggressive behavior will not be tolerated; trained staff on de-escalation tactics; and made fewer entrances accessible to visitors, among other measure.

The weapons detection systems will allow patients and visitors to pass through the devices without having to empty pockets or handbags or remove belts. They are designed to detect firearms and moderately sized knives and other weapons.

“We have used metal screening at our Emergency Department for years; this is an expansion of that layer of enforcement of our weapons-free campus policy,” said John Dailey, chief of Duke University and Duke University Hospital Police. Similar devices are common at concert halls and arenas, court houses and other public buildings, including Cameron Stadium on the Duke Campus.

Installation will begin the week of Feb. 13. Equipment will go online in a phased approach through early March.

Appropriate signage will alert visitors that screening is in place and remind visitors to leave any weapons behind before entering the hospital. Detected illegal items will be confiscated; other items must be returned to a vehicle or discarded. Visitors who fail to comply by either surrendering their weapons or removing them from their persons will not be allowed entrance.

Although the scanners are safe for pregnant women and those with medical devices, patients and visitors can opt to be screened with a hand wand. If they refuse any screening, they will not be allowed to enter the premises.

Staff members with badges will not be screened.

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