PeaceHealth looks to improve security after two gun incidents on Thursday

Officials at PeaceHealth said they are keeping the entry restrictions in place as they review security protocols over the weekend.

Posted: Mar 8, 2019 7:06 PM
Updated: Mar 8, 2019 8:10 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- After a tragic and frightening Thursday at Riverbend Hospital involving guns, PeaceHealth officials are seeing what they can do to make sure their staff and patients stay safe.

Marcy Marshall, a spokesperson with PeaceHealth, said they already have a no weapons policy in place but are looking at enhancing it.

"We live in a day in age where any one organization can use enhancements," Marshall said. "Through the learning of this current situation, we'll certainly take them back and make security enhancements."

Officials said it started with a patient taking their own life with a gun early Thursday morning. Marshall said no one else was present at the time of the incident. They are offering their deepest sympathies to the family and friends of this patient and said spiritual care and support are being offered to caregivers working on the affected unit.

RELATED: RIVERBEND HOSPITAL ON LOCKDOWN; MAN IN CUSTODY

Just hours later, Springfield police said Shawn Wusstig, 43, came to Riverbend Hospital with a rifle, allegedly asking staff about gun classes. Police said he left the hospital and was arrested for methamphetamine possession and disorderly conduct. After his arrest, police said a staff member found a rifle in a parking garage at Riverbend, triggering a lockdown at area PeaceHealth hospitals. That lockdown has since been lifted. 

On Friday, both Riverbend and University District hospitals were still on high alert. Marshall said they are only allowing people through certain entrances and have added security to check for weapons. 

Officials at PeaceHealth said they are keeping the entry restrictions in place as they review security protocols over the weekend. Access at Riverbend will be through the ER or main lobby only. At University District, only the ER, third floor or clinic parking across Hilyard are accessible.

"I thank them for looking out for everybody," said Chad Christensen, who works at University District Hospital. "Somebody's got to do it. It's inconvenient as staff members to have to follow these precautions but the greater good is pretty clear."

Marshall said it's too early to tell if PeaceHealth will be adding metal detectors to their to hospitals but said the health and safety of their patients and staff is their number one priority.

"We want people to feel safe but not intimidated, so how do we strike that balance," Marshall said.

According to court records, Wusstig was also charged with ciminal trespass on Feb. 23 at the Eugene Airport. Court documents state as part of his release conditions, he was ordered to stay away from the airport and not use drugs.

Court documents state that his bond has been revoked because of these new charges and as of Friday evening, he was still booked into the Lane County Jail. He is expected to be in front of a judge again on March 15.

Both Springfield police and the Lane County District Attorney's Office told KEZI 9 News they are still investigating the case.

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