August 18, 2002
Mind-numbing stupidity

Reader Carol (my unpaid intern) pointed out an article in today's Seattle Times that totally astonished me. One would think that I'd build up an immunity to stupidity after a few months in Seattle, but this boggles the mind.

Harborview staff safety jeopardized by policy?

Quoting the first few paragraphs of this news story:

A fugitive pedophile wanted by the FBI has a doctor's appointment. You know the time and place. What do you do?
If you're an employee at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, you're supposed to make sure the pedophile keeps his appointment, receives medical care and leaves without the police finding out he was there.
Providing felons, fugitives, drug addicts and homeless people with care is part of Harborview's mission. Hospital officials see it as a sanctuary and strive to ensure that prospective patients aren't scared away or offended by too much security.
But the dark side of sanctuary regularly reveals itself in the hospital's emergency room, where staffers are assaulted; in its bathrooms, where heroin addicts shoot up in the stalls; in its security logs, where assaults, thefts, rapes, robberies and drug violations are recorded.
Last month, a man with a .357 magnum and 100 rounds of ammunition walked into Harborview and killed himself in a remote first-floor bathroom. Administrators said they would review security procedures in light of the shooting, but a question looms:
Is Harborview too safe for criminals, and not safe enough for staff and patients?
"They call it a sanctuary, and yet their own employees are afraid to come there," said Field Training Officer Gary Talcott, one of 51 public-safety officers who provide security at the hospital.

This is what happens when you let a university (University of Washington) manage a publicly-owned facility (the hospital is owned by King County). Further, the local union leader is opposed to giving the security personnel additional powers, spinning it as a racial issue. Instead of making it a place where medicine is practiced, it has become a bastion of political correctness. The fact that they are endangering their other patients, their staff, and the surrounding neighborhood is irrelevant to them.

Read the whole article to fully develop a sense of outrage.

posted on August 18, 2002 05:02 PM


Getting the word out about methods for enforcing confidentiality requirements without compromising physical security is not the whole story here. Another piece of this problem is the fact that so many people walking down the street are "illegal"-- an outstanding warrant of some sort, lack of citizenship papers, addiction problem, don't want to admit HIV status for fear of losing the right to health insurance, hiding from an abusive ex, etc. Cleaning up the INS - employers - universities situation and the drivers' license databases is imperative!

posted by sassafrass on August 19, 2002 07:06 PM

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