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'Hospitals Are Not Fortresses': Healthcare Workers At Increased Risk For Workplace Violence

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Flags will fly at half-staff this weekend to honor the victims of a shooting inside a Buffalo health clinic.

Medical assistant Lindsay Overbay, 37, died after a disgruntled patient opened fire Tuesday, wounding her and four others. Three of the victims are still in the hospital, with one in critical condition.

RELATED: Minnesota Gun Law Debate Reignited After Deadly Buffalo Clinic Shooting

Overbay was a wife and a mother of two. She was a student attending college classes to better provide for her kids. Naiya Stubbe was her best friend.

"All she's ever wanted to do is help people. All she's ever done is take care of people, her family and friends, and this family is so close it's indescribable," Stubbe said.

Lindsay Overbay
(credit: Naiya Stubbe)

Overbay was also a victim of workplace violence. It is a fear many health professionals have, and perhaps for good reason. OSHA says healthcare workers are at an increased risk for workplace violence. And from 2002 to 2013, incidents of serious workplace violence were four times more common in healthcare than in private industry.

One of the most high-profile incidents in recent years happened in 2014, when a patient beat four nurses with a metal bar from a bed at St. John's Hospital in Maplewood.

Minnesota Hospital Association President and CEO Dr. Rahul Koranne says on top of drills and protocols, hospitals work closely with security and local law enforcement to prepare for the worst days.

"We have drills around active shooters. We want to make sure that our staff are ready and prepared. But at the end of the day, you know, clinics and hospitals are not fortresses," Koranne said.

RELATED: Gregory Ulrich Made Past Threats To Get 'Revenge' On Clinic

But he says Minnesota hospitals learn from mistakes and data to sharpen their defenses.

"We will continue on this journey of improvement, and will continue to learn from all of these heartbreaking instances," he said. "We just need to support our healthcare personnel who are on the front line and have been dealing with a lot."

Allina Health says even though Tuesday's shooting appears to be an isolated incident, it is increasing security at its facilities as an extra precaution.

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