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Southdale Hospital shooting comes at time of high stress for health care workers

The shooting of a doctor at a parking ramp outside Southdale Hospital has renewed discussions about hospital safety.

EDINA, Minn. — This week’s shooting of a doctor in a parking ramp outside M Health Fairview Southdale Hospital came as alarming news to frontline workers across the Twin Cities, who are already on edge from the pandemic and civil unrest.  

The attempted robbery and shooting on Monday, which also comes at a time of increased overall crime in nearby Minneapolis and St. Paul in 2020, renewed calls from the Minnesota Nurses Association for more security staff at health care facilities.

“It does wear on you after a while, and sometimes, at some point, it gives,” MNA staffing specialist Carrie Mortrud said. “[We need] more bodies – more trained security bodies to help with these kinds of situations.”  

At Southdale, an M Health Fairview spokesperson said they have indeed added security, while also upgrading the video surveillance system and parking ramp lighting. The hospital, like all M Health Fairview facilities and many others nationwide, already provides escorts for workers leaving their shifts, which has been used by eight employees in 2020, according to the spokesperson (full statement can be found below).  

Monday’s incident was the first reported act of violence in a parking facility against a Southdale employee this year. Police have described it as a targeted robbery attempt.

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Workplace violence prevention has been a key issue in health care for years. In 2016, the Minnesota Hospital Association partnered with the state health department and the Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association on a safety “road map” that largely focused on protocols for patients brought in by law enforcement.  

“We are places of healing. We are also places of high emotion,” said Dr. Rahul Koranne, the president and CEO of the Minnesota Hospital Association. “I would say that part of what has changed in the last several years, is looking at our security personnel and law enforcement personnel – that are our community partners – as part and parcel of our frontline care teams. We want information to be shared.  We want that team to work together cohesively, so that the patient gets the care she needs while everybody stays safe.” 

Statement from M Health Fairview spokesperson Joe Campbell:  

Workplace safety has been and continues to be a shared area of focus for our system. We've worked collaboratively with our nurses, doctors, security and safety personnel and other support staff to invest in new workplace safety initiatives, including prevention, training, and improving our physical environment.  At Southdale, we’ve recently completed, or are in the process of completing, several safety enhancements including upgrades to our security system and video surveillance, updating and improving lighting inside parking ramps, and working closely with local law enforcement to supplement patrols in the area. 

In an effort to keep staff safe, we have a long-running escort program for staff at all of our site locations (this has been utilized by 8 staff at Southdale in 2020), and violence against employees outside or inside parking facilities has been nonexistent at Southdale in 2020, with the exception of Monday’s incident. We all share the same objective of making our hospitals safe places to work and receive care, and we are committed to continuing to work together on this important issue.