How Covenant ER handles aggressive patients

How Covenant ER handles aggressive patients

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

When there are threats, hospitals have to prioritize the safety of their staff, patients, and visitors. Those can be drunks, drug abusers, people coping with mental health problems, or angry relatives.

Jodi Warren is the security manager at Covenant Medical Center. He said the majority of aggressive patients are high on synthetic drugs.

"They can be extremely violent, they have strength that is beyond their normal strength," Warren said. "They'll act erratic, they don't know where they are at, and there are a lot of times they'll have to be chemically or physically constrained, due to their behavior."

Warren said there are addicts who are looking to get clean.

"They'll want to come in for the help, but sometimes they'll get into those violent states as they come off their drugs," Warren said.

Covenant has both this security staff and Lubbock Police officers on duty 24/7. Just their presence alone can deescalate situations quickly.

Doctor Mike Chamales is the director for the ER department. He said he believes the hospital has taken the right measures.

"I know for the nursing staff, they actually have additional training with violent patients or hostile patients," Chamales said. "The physician staff, it's kinda more learning on the job kind of thing."

He said, just like in real life, staff look for cues when anyone starts to get agitated. 

"At that point, we tell the nurse, get out of there," Chamales said. "Come get some help, and we try to deescalate the situation too." 

Despite the risk, Chamales is going to continue doing what he loves.

"99.9 percent of patients are wonderful, their families are wonderful," Chamales said. "I enjoy taking care of them. It's that very small percentage that causes trouble, just like anywhere else in life."

If a patient does assault a security or police officer, they will be prosecuted. Warren said it has happened before, and expects it to happen again. However, he said they are doing the best they can to make sure the ER remains safe.

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