GW Hospital heightens security

Security has been stepped up at GW Hospital after fatal attacks at two area hospitals in recent weeks.

Though no similar violence has occurred at GW’s hospital, officials say they are taking extra precautions to safeguard the hospitals’ entrances and high-traffic areas.

A Prince George’s Hospital Center administrator working late was found bound and strangled in her office Jan. 13. Police told The Washington Post the victim had been raped.

Last Thursday, a gunman killed one patient and wounded five others in the lobby of the Washington Hospital Center’s Cancer Institute. Hospital officials told The Post the shooting occurred so quickly the armed guard in the room did not have time to respond.

John L. Hummer, chief operating officer for the GW Medical Center, said while the hospital’s security is adequate, officials will make a “continuous improvement effort” to ensure safety in the hospital.

“We felt it important to improve our level of readiness,” Hummer said.

To control traffic in the building, the 22nd Street entrance now closes at 6 p.m., and the entrances on I and 23rd streets close at 8 p.m. Only the hospital’s emergency room will remain open 24 hours a day, Hummer said.

Security officers will be stationed at each entrance, he added.

Guards also will check the identification of all employees and visitors in the building. All visitors are required to check in at the entrance, Hummer said.

Senior Catie DeLong, a pre-med student who volunteers at Columbia Hospital for Women, said she is not sure security guards will be able to secure all aspects of the hospital.

“It’s a little frightening,” DeLong said. “At the Washington Hospital Center (the gunman) just walked in with a gun and started shooting, so I don’t think a security guard is going to be able to stop that.

“It concerns me because (P.G. and Washington Hospital centers) already have security in place and it’s obviously not doing a good enough job,” she added.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.