Explaining that “Greenwood could be just a time bomb waiting to explode,” the Greenwood Hospital Board announced at its meeting Tuesday that all members of the general public would have to undergo scanning with a metal detector before being allowed into board meetings starting in April.
Dennis Mitchell, the hospital’s security director, held a black and yellow Garrett metal detector and said it would be used on the general public only.
“It’s not going to be for the CEO,” Mitchell said. “It’s not going to be for the board members, folks in administration, and also the doctors. It’s going to be for the general public.” If hospital employees were asked to come to the board meeting to offer information to the board, they wouldn’t be scanned, he said, but if they came as members of the public they would be.
Mitchell said the metal detector was being used at the request of the board members. At nearly every board meeting, a reporter from the Commonwealth and a cameraman from The Taxpayers Channel are the only people in attendance who are not on the board or staff at the hospital.
Asked whether board members were feeling intimidated or threatened, Board Chairman Sammy Foster said:
“You’re a news reporter. You know what’s going on around this country. Things are happening every day. Greenwood could be just a time bomb waiting to explode.
“You can always do things in advance, precautious ... instead of saying, ‘Oh, I wish we had did that.’ Look at all the school shootings all over the country. It’s nothing new. It’s for the security and safety of the people who come in this hospital. ...
“We’re just trying to take these extra measures in case something could happen. And I think when you do it like that, a person attempting to do something, they know there’s going to be a checkpoint.”
Foster wanted to make sure the public knew the hospital had the scanner just lying around and didn’t have to spend money to buy it.
“This is needed,” Mitchell said. “I mean, we’ve had a lot of stuff going on, so it’s just part of what we’re trying to do at the hospital, and that’s to make the hospital a safer environment. ... It makes people feel a little bit more safer.”
A sign on the door at the main entrance to the hospital indicates, “No Weapons Permitted,” which would prohibit anyone from carrying a weapon into the hospital except people who have earned the enhanced endorsement for the Mississippi concealed carry permit.
Also Tuesday, without comment, the board released its monthly statement of operations for February, which showed the hospital lost $1.16 million, bringing the total for the first five months of the fiscal year to a negative $2.5 million, compared with a negative $3.1 million for the same period in fiscal year 2018.
The $1.16 million loss in February compares with a negative $1.96 million in February 2018, so there has been an improvement of more than $800,000. Total revenue for the month was $8.37 million, compared with $7.85 million in the same month last year. Expenses totaled $9.56 million compared with $9.76 million last year.
Despite disparaging comments made by elected officials during a joint meeting of the Leflore County Board of Supervisors and the Greenwood City Council, the board’s meeting room was equipped with a buffet featuring a fresh salad with the choice of three dressings, two heated and covered dishes, breads and rolls, soft drinks, coffee and tea, and red velvet cake with drizzled topping. Board members did not partake while members of the media were in the board room.
• Contact Gavin Maliska at 581-7235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.