Ben Taub Hospital looking into solving security problems

Hospital has had multiple acts of violence in recent years

The exterior of Ben Taub Hospital in Houston.
The exterior of Ben Taub Hospital in Houston. (KPRC2)

HOUSTON – Taking care of trauma is a daily ritual at Ben Taub Hospital, but several times in the past four years the hospital has been the scene of traumatic violence.

In October 2014, police swarmed the hospital after shots were fired in the pharmacy. A female employee was killed by a co-worker, who later killed himself.

During a 2016 incident, an inmate being treated at the hospital took a medical student hostage using a medical device as a weapon.

In 2017, reports of a shooting turned out to be a false alarm but the incident caused enough chaos for hospital leaders to act. They created a new response plan and protocol.

“We have discussed often the frustration of this dichotomy of protecting ourselves and our families and protecting our patients who are not able to protect themselves,” said Dr. Kenneth Mattox, chief of staff and surgeon-in-chief.

The standard for safety in an active shooter situation is “run, hide, fight,” but Mattox points out that’s not possible in an emergency room.

“We really can't abandon our patients that are in the operating room, delivering a baby or in the emergency room that are in the intensive care unit,” he said. “So, we added the concept of securing areas before one does run hide and fight.”

Secure. Run. Hide. Fight.

Mattox said that means staff would stay with patients.

Now, Mattox said hospital officials are working with law enforcement to establish safe areas in the hospital that should be the first places guarded and protected by FBI, SWAT and police.

“They are having discussions with the Houston police to say how can we standardize this so that as people go from hospital to hospital, including the police officers, that is a standardized approach,” he said.