NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — For the second time in a matter of days, the Metro Nashville Police Department made an arrest after an incident involving a gun at a local hospital, spotlighting the ongoing concern for more safety protocols inside medical facilities.
Nurses are pushing support for the Workplace Violence Prevention for Healthcare and Social Service Workers Act, federal legislation introduced in the Senate in May.
“We need the legislation, but we also need to be able to speak out safely without fear of retaliation,” an activist who goes by ‘The Nurse Erica’ on social media told News 2.
Erica is among many healthcare workers surprised to hear of another close call in Nashville.
The most recent incident took place on Monday, Nov. 28 at TriStar Centennial Medical Center. Police arrested 23-year-old Allen Staes after nurses notified an officer of an odor coming from the patient’s bag, where officers found four guns, one of which was reported stolen, along with meth, cocaine, marijuana, and ecstasy pills.
“We need hospitals to have armed security, to have metal detectors, all of it, and the vast majority do not,” said Erica.
Officials with TriStar Centennial Medical Center released the following statement to News 2 regarding Monday’s arrest:
“We are proud of the response from our Emergency Room team and the partnership from Metro Nashville Police to address the situation safely.”
Just down the street, at St. Thomas Midtown Hospital, Metro police arrested 33-year-old Nicholas Zaayenga over the weekend. He is accused of entering the hospital through an unlocked door and firing shots inside the hospital stairway.
“As a healthcare worker, you take a lot of personal risks caring for your patient and it’s very important that we are all safe from gun violence in our community, in our schools, and our workplaces,” Dr. Amy Gordon Bono told News 2. “Gun violence is an everyday occurrence in America at this point in time and it’s truly sad to see headlines flash.”
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“How easy is it to gain entrance to these units, to these hospitals? It’s incredible easy. You’re almost never stopped, you’re almost never questioned, you almost never have your bag searched, you almost never go through a metal detector,” Erica explained, describing these circumstances as terrifying.
Both incidents at the Nashville hospitals happened at a time when healthcare workers are already on edge following an October shooting at a Dallas hospital that left two employees dead.