The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

January 7, 2013

Athens-Limestone Hospital improves security

By Jean Cole

— In the wake of recent shootings at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham and elsewhere in the nation, Athens-Limestone Hospital has tightened its security.

The hospital on Market Street in Athens has begun closing entrances to the hospital earlier than in the past.

“Because of the recent events, we have made some serious changes in the way we are doing things here,” Betsy Harris, hospital development director, told The News Courier Friday.

On Dec. 15, a gunman shot and injured a Birmingham police officer and two employees at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham. Jason Letts of Jemison had become upset over his wife’s care the night of Dec. 14. He was ejected from the hospital but returned about 4 a.m. Dec. 15 with a gun and opened fire. Two police officers fatally shot him.

“Emergency rooms are themselves volatile environments and not immune to violence,” sad Dr. Wallace Seay, Emergency Department physician at Athens-Limestone. “I am proud that our administration is taking measures to make our environment a safer place for our patients, staff and guests.”

The security changes at A-LH were made after hospital administrators reviewed security policies and procedures and decided it was necessary to change the hours of entrance to certain areas of the hospital in order to increase patient and staff safety.

Although the hospital has a security guard, he cannot be everywhere at once, Harris said.

“We understand that these changes may initially cause some inconveniences, but we believe these changes are necessary for the welfare of everyone who uses our hospital,” said Chief Executive Officer Kelli Powers.

Effective immediately, the hours of operation for the hospital entrances are as follows:

• Sanders Street entrance — open daily from 5 to 7 p.m.;

• Market Street admissions entrance — open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; closed Saturdays, Sundays and major holidays;

• Market Street exterior door (exiting from the vending area) — open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; closed Saturdays, Sundays and major holidays.

For more information, call Alan Shero at 256-233-9441.