The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

November 29, 2013

Security measures improved at Sharon Regional

Stabbing victim transferred back to local hospital

By Melissa Klaric
Herald Staff Writer

SHARON — Linda Clark, an ER greeter who was stabbed Nov. 10, was transferred Sunday to inpatient rehabilitation care in Sharon Regional after spending two weeks at Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh.

Ed Newmeyer, hospital marketing director, said Clark told him she was happy to be back in Sharon.

“She is doing really well,” Newmeyer said. “She is so appreciative of the cards and letters and well wishes she’s gotten from people.”

Clark’s prognosis is good, although she has a lot of rehab to do, Newmeyer said. He could not say how long her hospital stay will be.

Jason M. DelFratte, 30, of Sharpsville, who is charged with attempted homicide, is in Mercer County Jail awaiting a preliminary hearing in the case.

In response to Clark’s ordeal, the hospital has beefed up security.

Upon entering the ER at all hours, patients and family will have to pass a policeman on their way to a newly installed walk-through metal detector.

Although hospital security staffers are well-trained, with as many as three guards on duty on a normal day, Newmeyer said they are not armed.

So the hospital has been hiring off-duty police to provide armed police coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Sharon police sign up to work shifts at the hospital, Scott Widmeyer, a Sharon patrolman, said.

“Everyone’s willing to step up and help out,” Widmeyer said of his fellow patrolmen. Police are paid by Sharon Regional for their shifts at the hospital.

Chief Mike Menster said Sharon is able to cover most of the shifts from the city’s department, which has 27 members. Some hospital shifts are covered by patrolmen from Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Department.

Other security upgrades include closing the East State Street entrance at the front of the hospital at 6 p.m. daily. This means everyone must use the main emergency room entrance at night.

Ambulance and hospital personnel have been alerted that family members will no longer be permitted to enter through the ambulatory doors with their loved ones.

“We don’t want to interfere with the care of anyone, but patients are scanned as soon as possible after coming in,” said Kurt Ellefson, director of security. “Everyone has been very cooperative.”

The response so far to increased security has been very positive, he said.

“People usually come in and start taking stuff out of their pockets,” Ellefson said.

Newmeyer said staffers appreciate the extra security.

“It’s been a reassurance and has given the staff peace of mind,” he said. “I think it’s a deterrent.”

The security system will be scrutinized and, if necessary, updated in the future, Newmeyer said.

The hospital has increased its patrols throughout its properties and parking lots, and has plans to add more lighting and security cameras to its grounds and parking lots.

Newmeyer said security plans are being evaluated at  Sharon Regional Health System satellite locations in Hermitage, Mercer, Neshannock Township in Lawrence County and Brookfield and Hubbard in Ohio.