published Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Erlanger to outsource security to local firm

by Emily Bregel
  • photo
    Hospital security police officers Ron Capetz, right, Kenny Cookston, center, and Gary Avans stand outside of Erlanger hospital to protest the potential outsourcing of hospital security to Walden Security. Staff Photo by Angela Lewis/Chattanooga Times Free Press

Erlanger Health System trustees are expected to vote next week on a resolution to outsource the hospital’s security operations to Walden Security, the Chattanooga-based company that won Erlanger’s competitive bid process.

The move is not a cost-saving measure, said hospital board Chairman Dan Quarles. But as a major security company, Walden is better equipped than Erlanger to handle the hospital’s security needs, he said.

Erlanger gave its current security force notice of the impending change earlier this month, prompting protests this week from Erlanger’s police officers angry about the change.

All Erlanger security officers will be given the opportunity to interview for a position with Walden if the bid award is approved, said Pat Charles, hospital spokeswoman.

Erlanger hospital police officer Ron Capetz said he’s unsure if he will apply.

“They pay less and their health insurance is pretty minimal,” he said as he picketed outside the hospital on Tuesday.

Until April 2010, Erlanger handled all recruiting, hiring and management of its security force internally. But a number of vacancies and difficulty recruiting new officers prompted the hospital to enter into a professional services contract with Chattanooga-based Walden Security last spring at a cost of $10,000 a month, Erlanger officials have said.

Hospital executives have said the move to outsource security was unrelated to the 2009 death of a patient who was shocked with a Taser by a hospital security officer.

The Hamilton County medical examiner’s autopsy report concluded that the death was caused by a blood clot and was not connected to the use of a Taser, according to Chattanooga Times Free Press archives.

But Erlanger Police Superviser Rodney Patton, who was picketing outside the hospital Tuesday, said he believes the change is directly related to the incident.

“Erlanger was unable to handle the media attention around the Taser incident, so they wanted to go to private security,” he said.

Walden Security notice
Walden Security notice
about Emily Bregel...

Health care reporter Emily Bregel has worked at the Chattanooga Times Free Press since July 2006. She previously covered banking and wrote for the Life section. Emily, a native of Baltimore, Md., earned a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Columbia University. She received a first-place award for feature writing from the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists’ Golden Press Card Contest for a 2009 article about a boy with a congenital heart defect. She ...

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