Hospitals expect minimal risks from potential election turmoil

Hospitals are taking few, if any, extra precautions to prepare for any potential election-related civil unrest, deeming the threat unlikely or minimal.

Hospitals and physician practices in New York, Illinois, California, Washington, Ohio, Washington D.C. and North Carolina are keeping an eye on their facilities, employees and patients, but haven’t significantly bolstered their safety protocols. Most providers don’t see the need for any “extraordinary measures” to address potential election-related issues.

“We have not determined any immediate threat to the patients or employees, but we are prepared to secure these facilities at any time,” a spokesperson from New Hyde Park, New York-based Northwell Health told Modern Healthcare.

Similar to other big cities, the DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency activated its emergency operations center to better coordinate any responses to issues that arise on Nov. 3 and 4, the District of Columbia Hospital Association said.

“The district’s hospitals are open to safely and compassionately care for anyone that comes through our doors,” the association wrote in a statement. “Their focus will always be ensuring the safety of their associates, patients and the residents of the district, and today is no different. In conjunction with the government of the District of Columbia, our association and its members maintain situational awareness at all times.”

Renton, Wash.-based Providence didn’t note any increase in security measures, only that “each of (Providence’s) entities have their safety and security plans in place, and the appropriate controls will depend on the facility.”

Providence has been encouraging staff to check in on each other and use resources like its telebehavioral health services to help cope with the intensity of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the polarization that has heightened the anxiety.

“We’ve been reminding everyone, whatever the outcome, our healing mission endures. This is a time when we need to show respect, compassion and civility toward one another like never before,” Providence said.

Meanwhile, hospitals in many large cities are already dealing with an uptick in COVID-19 cases, which has drawn much of their resources.

There have been threats of voter suppression and violence stemming from election results. Law enforcement officials in Chicago and Cleveland are canceling days off for police officers Tuesday to ensure they have enough staff to respond to any disruptions. While they are increasing police presence in certain areas, they are generally taking a wait-and-see approach.

“As this thing goes throughout Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, we will reassess what the division of police and department of public safety need to do to keep our public safe,” Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said during a press conference Monday afternoon.

There weren’t any incidents of voter intimidation in Chicago nor suburban Cook Tuesday morning, Crain’s Chicago Business reported.


Tags: covid-19, pandemic

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