A day after Albany Medical Center went on lockdown for several hours due to a relative of a patient allegedly threatening staff with weapons, a nurse that works in the hospital said people didn’t feel safe and the state nurses association said management at the facility has failed to seriously consider safety measures proposed.
Dino Savoca, 61, of Colonie, was carrying a BB gun and shotgun Monday while visiting his 97-year-old mother in the hospital, and barricaded himself in a room for hours before police took him into custody, according to Albany Police Department spokesperson Steve Smith.
No shots were fired and no one was injured. Savoca was arraigned Tuesday in Albany criminal court. He was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, menacing and kidnapping.
In an interview Tuesday, Kathryn Dupuis, a labor and delivery nurse at Albany Med, said that while she was not in the hospital during the incident Monday, she was speaking on behalf of co-workers.
“People didn’t feel safe, and they don’t feel safe today, and I think that’s the biggest problem,” Dupuis said. “Nobody knew where it was going on, so they didn’t know if, where they were sheltering in place was a safe place to shelter. And it’s very hard to continue caring for patients when you’re scared and you don’t know what’s going on."
Albany Medical Center had said that at no time during the entire incident were patients and staff in danger.
“An overhead page went out throughout the main hospital and then every employee received either a text message or a phone call or both, alerting them to stay where they were and shelter in place,” hospital spokesperson Matt Markham said.
The New York State Nurses Association released a statement Tuesday, saying, “Unfortunately, management has failed to seriously consider our proposals for active shooter drills, metal detectors, additional security in the Emergency Department and more.”
Dupuis said nurses have been advocating for protections like bulletproof glass and a police sub-station.
Markham responded, saying Albany Med does conduct drills regularly to prepare for such situations.
“We have a structure that works to handle serious issues,” he said. “I think we could see yesterday that ultimately, the hospital was a safe place to receive care. No patients were hurt, no staff members were hurt.”
The incident started around 2:40 p.m. Monday, when Savoca entered the hospital and displayed weapons at people trying to transport his mother to another facility, according to officials. He then holed up in the room of his mother on C-3 East.
A Code Silver alert was issued, sending Albany Medical Center into lockdown. The code is used to inform employees an armed assailant is in the building. Patients in the hospital continued to receive care, the hospital said.
Albany police responded and ultimately took Savoca into custody at 7:15 p.m., according to officials. The lockdown was lifted Monday night.
Hospital officials met Tuesday to go over the event and discuss what changes, if any, should be implemented moving forward. But Dupuis said while nurses were happy things ended the way they did Monday, they want to see the hospital make proactive changes.
“I’ve been advocating since I started here over 25 years ago,” Dupuis said. “I was on the security committee in the ER, and you just have to keep fighting for what you think is right. And I haven’t left this institution. I have stayed here, and I stay here because I have faith that they are going to change things, but they have to change things now.”