Archive June 2017 XVIII, No. 6

Editor's Page: Opening Up About Threat That Closed Down ASC

'I have a gun and I'm coming to shoot up the place, so be ready.'

Dan O

Dan O'Connor, Editor-in-Chief


Tuesday is the busiest day for orthopedic and pediatric surgeries at The Surgery Center in Franklin, Wis. The 5-OR ASC was already teeming with activity — patients with nerve blocks in their shoulders, anxious parents in the waiting room and staff scurrying about — when the phone rang at about 8:15 a.m.

The woman on the line sounded a bit older ... and a bit off.

"I have a gun and I'm going to come shoot up the place, so be ready."

The receptionist hung up the phone, rose from her chair and walked over to the cubicle where her boss happened to be seated to tell her the news.

"I called 911. Then I told the business office staff to go lock all the doors," says Fawn Esser Lipp, RN, BSN, CNOR, CASC, the ASC's executive director, recalling the events of the third Tuesday of last month.

OSM logo

Agree or disagree: Healthcare workers should be allowed to carry guns in the workplace.

  • Strongly agree 23%
  • Agree 12%
  • Unsure 8%
  • Disagree 19%
  • Strongly disagree 38%

SOURCE: Outpatient Surgery Magazine InstaPoll, n=824

Ms. Lipp was on the phone with the 911 dispatcher when the first police officer arrived. Just then, the phone rang. The receptionist recognized the number from the threatening call 10 minutes earlier. The officer told the receptionist to calmly answer the phone and mouthed a series of questions for her to ask the caller.

"Are you driving?" "No, I'm at home," said the caller.

"Do you have a gun?" "Yes," she said.

"Can I have your name and address?" The woman gave a fake name and address.

Then the caller asked a bizarre question of her own. "I've been kidnapped. Can you come over?"

Police identified the caller by searching her cell phone number. She has an arrest record, but she's no longer living at her last known address. Police issued a warrant for her arrest.

The surgery center was placed on lockdown and evacuated by noon. It reopened the next morning under heavy police presence. As unsettling as the ordeal was, Ms. Lipp says it forced her center to confront its vulnerabilities to workplace violence.

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