History of violence forced abor­tion clin­ics to pre­pare

Modern Healthcare - - NEWS - By Adam Ruben­fire

When a gunman killed three peo­ple and wounded nine oth­ers at a Planned Par­ent­hood clinic in a Colorado abor­tion clinic last month, it was not sur­pris­ing to those who have worked for the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Shortly af­ter the shoot­ing, a for­mer worker tweeted what she’d ex­pe­ri­enced in a three-year stint at a Wi­chita, Kan., clinic in the late ’90s. Bryn Green­wood, whose em­ploy­ment was con­firmed by Planned Par­ent­hood, tweeted that gaso­line was poured un­der the clinic’s back door and ig­nited while the fa­cil­ity was oc­cu­pied; bu­tyric acid was poured un­der the clinic’s doors and into the ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem; and cherry bombs were left on the clinic’s doorstep. The clinic also was sub­ject to three drive-by shoot­ings and hun­dreds of threat­en­ing phone calls.

Data back up those claims. Ac­cord­ing to a 2010 RAND Corp. re­port, the most re­cent study avail­able, Planned Par­ent­hood clin­ics were sub­jected to more than 300 acts of “ex­treme violence” be­tween 1973 and 2003, in­clud­ing ar­son, bomb­ings and mur­ders.

Those acts have forced abor­tion providers to pre­pare clin­ics in ways that may have saved lives in Colorado. Twenty-four peo­ple were evac­u­ated un­harmed from in­side the Colorado Springs clinic, which had a safe room and bul­let­proof vests. None of the clinic’s staff were harmed. Po­lice of­fi­cers de­ployed to the scene also tapped into the clinic’s high-tech se­cu­rity cam­eras, which let them see where the shooter (al­legedly 57-year-old recluse Robert Dear) was at all times.

The Colorado mass shoot­ing and the Cal­i­for­nia shoot­ing that occurred five days later come amid height­ened do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional po­lit­i­cal ten­sions. Planned Par­ent­hood and the Na­tional Abor­tion Fed­er­a­tion have re­ported a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in threats af­ter an anti-abor­tion group posted covert videos pur­port­ing to show a se­nior Planned Par­ent­hood of­fi­cial discussing the sale of aborted fe­tuses for re­search pur­poses. And fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tors are look­ing into pos­si­ble ter­ror­ist links be­hind the shoot­ing that killed 14 peo­ple last week in San Bernardino, Calif.

Af­ter last month’s ter­ror­ism at­tacks in Paris, HHS sent a let­ter to hos­pi­tal sys­tems ask­ing them to re­view their pro­to­cols for ac­tive shoot­ing sit­u­a­tions in their fa­cil­i­ties. Not­ing that health­care work­ers have to keep them­selves safe while pro­tect­ing oth­ers, the guide­lines sug­gested fol­low­ing the mantra “Run, hide, fight.” That is, run away from the shooter, find a se­cure hid­ing place and fight back if the shooter comes close. Other guide­lines in­volve reg­u­lar drills and dis­cus­sions about how to han­dle im­mo­bile pa­tients.

But ex­haus­tive se­cu­rity mea­sures come at a fi­nan­cial and psy­cho­log­i­cal cost. “We take full re­spon­si­bil­ity for our own se­cu­rity, and that is an added ex­pense for all of Planned Par­ent­hood across the coun­try,” said Ca­role Brite, CEO of Planned Par­ent­hood Illi­nois.

Large hos­pi­tals with their ro­bust se­cu­rity teams are well-po­si­tioned to adopt com­pre­hen­sive pro­tec­tive mea­sures and train per­son­nel. But it’s harder for out­pa­tient fa­cil­i­ties, which his­tor­i­cally have not re­quired sig­nif­i­cant at­ten­tion to se­cu­rity.

“A lot of times, clin­ics and ar­eas are very open and very ac­tive, and they think that needs to be a part of the car­ing en­vi­ron­ment,” said Ben Scaglione, di­rec­tor of health­care se­cu­rity ser­vices at G4S Se­cure So­lu­tions and sec­re­tary of the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion for Health­care Se­cu­rity and Safety. “But, un­for­tu­nately, we’re see­ing things are chang­ing.”

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