UNMH reviewed its security policy after a Jan. 4 shooting incident, but the hospital didn’t make changes to its policy.
Daniel Cesar Dominguez-Garcia entered the hospital Jan. 4, with a gun, and fired a shot into the ceiling of the hospital’s pediatric floor after a dispute with his girlfriend. Dominguez-Garcia then left the building, leading police to lock down UNM and streets surrounding the hospital.
UNMH spokesman Billy Sparks said the hospital reviewed its security policy following the incident but found nothing that could be improved.
“In view of the incident, we analyzed our security to determine if there was adequate coverage and adequate internal support,” he said. “It was deemed there was.”
The doors of the hospital allow anyone to enter the facility during daytime hours, Sparks said, but there are restrictions at later hours. He said that during the day there are levels of coverage at entrances, with some opened and closed. At a certain point in the evening, only one entrance is open, and all entrances are monitored 24/7.
UNMH’s six entrances are camera-monitored by an unarmed security force, and Sparks said there is generally a security car parked by the emergency entrance.
Still, somehow Dominguez-Garcia got into the hospital armed, and he was not the first to bring a weapon on the premises.
Last June, a man’s concealed gun went off in the ER waiting room. No one was seriously injured, but several patients were hit with bullet shards.
David Parker, of Ron Peterson Firearms, said acquiring a concealed-weapon license is simple. He said applicants have to pass a background check and a class with written and physical exams, before the license is placed through the instructor.
Parker said license possession doesn’t enable carriers to bring a concealed weapon to hospitals, banks, public schools or other public places.
“If it is a privately owned business, it is at the discretion of the owner,” he said.
Sparks said the hospital decided against installing metal detectors at entrances because of high patient traffic. There are 3.5 million patient encounters annually in UNMH facilities, including the pharmacy and emergency care, and monitoring such a large amount of traffic would be difficult, Sparks said.
“Between traumas and ambulances coming in and all similar situations, it would be next to impossible to get someone though magnetometer when they need immediate care,” he said.
Sparks said the hospital has confidence in its ability to handle another gunman situation.
“What we have done is initiate dialogue between our security and campus police force for a top-to-bottom review of procedure if that should happen again,” he said. “The security force at hospital is highly trained and in great contact with main campus police.”