- Associated Press - Friday, October 2, 2015

HOUSTON (AP) - A Houston hospital where off-duty police officers who were working security shot a combative patient must prove that the complex is safe in order to keep its Medicaid and Medicare funding, federal officials say.

Federal inspectors who reviewed operations at St. Joseph Medical Center after the Aug. 27 shooting found deficiencies that put patients in “immediate jeopardy,” including failure to ensure training and failure to ensure patients’ rights were protected, the Houston Chronicle (https://bit.ly/1M6vFVr ) reported.

Alan Christopher Penn, 26, was unarmed when he was shot in the chest during a struggle with the two security guards. Both off-duty officers were injured when they were attacked with a wall fixture and a tray table, court documents indicate.

Penn, who had been hospitalized after a car wreck in the hospital parking lot, has a history of manic depressive disorder, anxiety and drug use, records show. He faces two counts of aggravated assault of a police officer and is in McAllen with family recovering.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which administers the government funding programs, gave St. Joseph until Oct. 8 to correct some security and training issues, the newspaper reported.

The hospital’s policies and procedures have since been strengthened to ensure patient safety with additional training, St. Joseph officials said Thursday in a statement. Official also said the plan has been approved by the Texas Department of State Health Services and CMS.

“Without standard precautions and security measures, no urban hospital like St. Joseph Medical Center can provide the environment required to care for patients, including those who become violent due to alcohol/drug abuse or medical/behavioral issues that can impair judgment,” the hospital said. “Following our internal review, our senior management team and governing board members took swift actions to ensure this kind of incident does not occur in our hospital again.”

St. Joseph plans to limit armed police officers to the emergency department lobby, hospital entrances and the perimeter. The officers would be called in to handle other security issues only after all other interventions have been exhausted.

The Houston Police Department declined comment on the shooting.


Information from: Houston Chronicle, https://www.houstonchronicle.com

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