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Senator suggests hospitals have metal detectors

ILLINOIS (WCIA) -- In times of emergency, hospitals are where we go to feel safe and get help. But, some say lax security could turn them from safe havens to crime scenes.

Now, one lawmaker wants every hospital in the state to use metal detectors to keep all weapons out. It's unfortunate the lengths we have to go to, but it's a reminder of the day and age we live in.

The legislation was filed before last week's shooting in Florida. It's to protect nurses and other healthcare workers from acts of violence. Now, in the wake of Florida's shooting, the bill's sponsor says it's needed now more than ever.

Whether you're fighting a cold or fighting for your life, hospitals are there with open doors, 24/7. But, that open door policy is becoming a point of concern.

"It's hard to know exactly who's coming into the hospital and exactly what they may have on them."

Mike Crum oversees security operations at St. John's Hospital, in Springfield. More than 1,000 visitors enter daily.

"We treat patients and we have family members here that are very emotional, you know, here at some of the worst times of their lives and making sure the environment is safe and weapons are not here is very important and just, with today's society, the increased number of weapons makes it very challenging."

But, a new law could help. Senator Laura Murphy (D) wants every hospital to install metal detectors at each entrance.

"Nurses feel afraid to be at work because there is no protection of people that are coming."

While opponents argue the unfunded mandate is too expensive, Murphy, who is a former health care worker says it's the least we can do for those who care for us.

"That will help provide a level of comfort so they know that any level of weapons are being stopped at the door."

Crum agrees.

"It's kind of the world that we live in and we have to prepare for it. Unfortunately, healthcare is not immune to acts of violence."

Right now, 15 - 20 officers patrol the campus. He says installing metal detectors is already on the table at St. John's and believes it will make workers and patients safer.

"The more we can provide that kind of environment, the better and the metal detectors would assist us in doing that."

Crum says suspicious people are common at hospitals. Just a few weeks ago, they had a close call. A patient alerted them someone had a loaded gun in their car in the parking lot. Fortunately, police responded and the gun did not make it into the hospital.

Guns are banned at hospitals, but a Brown University study counted almost 250 shootings at hospitals between 2000 - 2015, nationwide; 170 were inside hospitals.

Murphy says the bill is not just about guns and shootings, but a safe work environment. Between 2005 - 2014, violence against healthcare workers increased by 110% according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Murphy says the Illinois Nurses' Association fully supports the legislation.

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