Northwell Health has added touchless metal detectors at its hospitals in Bay Shore, New Hyde Park and New York City — part of a systemwide security upgrade after violent crime at two facilities earlier this year.
The metal detectors — at South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore, Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park and Lenox Health Greenwich Village in Manhattan — are of the type in use at Citi Field, The Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center, New York Presbyterian Hospital and Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, officials said. Northwell plans to expand the metal detectors to other system hospitals on Long Island and New York City this year.
“Unfortunately, we have to take precautions,” said Scott Strauss, vice president of security and support systems for Northwell.
“Most people walk through and may not even realize it," Strauss said of the metal detectors. "It literally takes seconds and we’re just doing what we can do to protect our patients, visitors and staff.”
Northwell expanded its security following several incidents or threats at facilities, Strauss said.
In February, an East Rockaway man, Thomas Saxton, was charged in connection with alleged threats against his wife while she held their toddler on the third floor of Cohen Children’s Medical Center. A search of his home later uncovered a large cache of weapons and ammunition, police said.
In March, Amelia Laguerre died after she was shot nine times in a Northwell parking garage in New Hyde Park after she left work. Her ex-boyfriend Quay-Sean Hines was indicted in May in her killing, prosecutors said at the time.
Northwell is using metal detectors from Massachusetts-based Evolv Technology. The devices are designed to detect large pieces of metal or cylinders at entrances without stopping patients, employees or visitors at a security checkpoint.
While officials acknowledge the metal detectors would not prevent a parking garage shooting, Strauss said the devices are another level of protection for hospital facilities.
Northwell has also added staff to monitor surveillance cameras and metal detectors. Officials said the metal detectors are designed to avoid lines and security checkpoint bottlenecks.
Evolv Technology has been a leader in detecting weapons and quickly screening large crowds, said Brian Higgins, an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and also a former Bergen County police chief.
He said hospitals have increased security for outside threats to protect health care workers and patients who are sick or unable to walk.
"Hospitals have unique challenges and I can’t think of a location more in need of screening weapons and protecting vulnerable people," Higgins said.