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Michael Jackson's Death Offers Chance to Review Hospital Lockdowns

Scott Wallask, for HealthLeaders Media, June 29, 2009

The outpouring of fan grief and media interest following Michael Jackson's death June 25 reverberated in the Los Angeles hospital where Jackson's body arrived, all of which provides interesting lessons for CEOs.

Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center went into lockdown after hundreds of people began gathering outside the building awaiting further word about Jackson's passing, says Vernon Goodwin, director of security for UCLA Health System.

As part of the lockdown's immediate steps, UCLA "manned all entrances with security personnel and administrative staff, and screened everyone who requested access," Goodwin says.

Such efforts can be monumental in a large hospital, says Steven MacArthur, a safety consultant with The Greeley Company, a division of HCPro, Inc., in Marblehead, MA.

"In a place like UCLA Medical Center, how many doors do they have?" MacArthur says.

The point is that during a lockdown, organizations likely won't have enough security officers to cover all entrances, which leads to what UCLA undertook: Using nonsecurity employees to assist.

Doing so will help a hospital avoid draining its security resources for the fairly routine task of monitoring doors, MacArthur says.

Even smaller hospitals that only have 15 entrances will still be taxed by trying to staff those doors during a lockdown, so regardless of your facility's size, verify that your security policies or incident command system account for alternate staff to bolster security efforts, he says.

From a financial perspective, hospitals also need to ensure that lockdowns don't curb medical services and admissions.

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