“It really means more of a partnership,” said hospital CEO Carlos Milanes, “It gives them a presence here. We are really thrilled to have it.”
In an opening ceremony, Aiken Public Safety Director Charles Barranco and Aiken County Sheriff Michael Hunt joined Milanes in unveiling the room, which displays the monikers of both departments.
Situated in the hospital’s emergency room, the area will give officers a place to keep forms and other supplies and a space to work outside their vehicles, Milanes said.
It will also be accessible to the South Carolina Highway Patrol or any other authority.
The room eventually will have radios to allow officers to communicate with their departments, he said.
“Safety of our visitors and our patients is key,” Milanes said. “It gives everyone a calmer feeling.”
Milanes said he met with Hunt and Barranco a few months ago to brainstorm about a way to increase officer presence in the emergency room.
The hospital employs security workers from Allied Barton, managed by a retired police officer, Milanes said, but having a place for officers to work in the emergency room was important.
Until now, if officers needed to conduct an interview or work, hospital workers would have to find an open space.
Each of Augusta’s larger 24-hour emergency rooms uses different security techniques.
Doctors Hospital hires private security from Sizemore and employs a Richmond County sheriff’s deputy on special duty from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Medical College of Georgia Hospital and University Hospital have their own public safety workers who carry weapons.
At MCG, a public safety officer is in the emergency room 24 hours a day, said Maj. Eugene Maxwell. MCG’s trauma center sees most of the violent-crime victims in the area, and the officer conducts preliminary interviews and begins a chain of custody for evidence.
Maxwell said the force has an office at the hospital, but it is not private, so if a Richmond County deputy needs a space for some reason, a vacant room is found.
“It hasn’t been a problem in the past,” he said.
Barranco and Hunt said they will not staff the room full time but appreciate having the space for their officers.
“Trying to find a place that was private can be challenging,” Barranco said. “Having a private place to interview witnesses and victims, away from the general public, will be a huge asset for us.”