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Patients armed with guns: Straub’s fear of guns underscores a disturbing trend

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – A patient armed with a ghost gun has been arrested at Straub Medical Center after sources say staff discovered the firearm and a high-capacity magazine in the man’s backpack.

Thursday’s gun scare is not an isolated incident.

The president of the Hawaii nurses union says it’s part of a troubling trend of patients being caught with guns inside Oahu hospitals.

Guns, knives and machetes are just some of the weapons recently seized, nurses say. This is such a widespread problem that many frontline caregivers fear for their safety.

“This is not an everyday thing. But that’s not unusual either,” said Daniel Ross. “There was an incident a few months ago at Queen’s where the staff actually had to take a loaded gun from a patient.”

The head of the Hawaii Nurses Union also provided HNN with a photo of a knife discovered in a separate incident.

“He (the patient) had cut the mattress to hide the knife in there,” Ross said. “You can see that the team is going out. So he could get it quickly.”

One of the latest horrors happened Thursday at Straub Medical Center.

Sources tell us one patient, who had been hospitalized for at least a week, became angry with the staff and walked out.

Inside the bag he left, hospital staff discovered what sources said was a ghost gun and a high-capacity magazine.

HPD confirms the 34-year-old suspect was arrested while searching the bag. At last check, the suspect was still in jail, being held on a warrant.

HNN sent a list of questions to Straub officials, specifically asking what protocols are in place to prevent weapons from entering the facility.

A spokesman declined to comment, saying in a statement: “Due to HPD’s ongoing investigation, we are not commenting at this time.”

A source inside Straub says this is at least the fifth incident involving a deadly weapon at the facility in the past year.

Ross said, “There is too much violence against healthcare workers. There should be nothing.”

In general, he says, Hawaii hospitals need to do more to keep guns safe — things like installing metal detectors and conducting bag checks. He also wants institutions to consider hiring police officers for security.

Ross says she dreads the thought of getting a phone call that someone is hurt or worse.

“It’s inevitable that it will happen one day,” he said. “It happened on the mainland. We had shootings and even mass shootings in hospitals, medical workers were killed.”

Hospitals that HNN spoke to would not provide official numbers on how often the weapons were found.

The union says employees are also not being notified.

Queen’s is the largest hospital system in the state. We asked what its facility would do to store weapons.

A spokesperson sent us this statement:

“At Queens, the safety of our patients and caregivers is our top priority. We have a number of security procedures in place, including screening our security teams in areas such as emergency departments and emergency clinics. We also have signs that say no guns on our campus. When our security team finds a weapon, they confiscate it and hand it over to the authorities. Additionally, we are implementing the Commure Strongline push notification system. This personal safety device, placed throughout the system, sends a silent alert to security personnel and other designated responders when activated. Our goal is to provide a safe workplace for all our hardworking and dedicated carers. “

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