Hopkins work goes on despite incident

Police try to minimize disruption, help patients keep appointments

September 16, 2010|By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun

Soon after a shooting at the Johns Hopkins Hospital complex yesterday, police moved quickly to restore access to the facility and minimize disruption to medical activities — delivering a message encouraging patients to keep their appointments even before the incident was resolved.

About an hour after a gunman identified as 50-year-old Paul Warren Pardus reportedly killed his mother and wounded a doctor before barricading himself in a room at the Nelson Building, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told reporters that patients "were still encouraged to come to the hospital."

It was the type of message usually delivered by mayors of beach towns reassuring tourists after a hurricane or oil spill, not by police dealing with a crime scene.

But the sprawling Hopkins medical campus, where thousands of professionals work and patients around the world visit, is a prime economic engine in Baltimore, and one that is hard to shut down — even in an emergency.

Even before Pardus was found dead in an apparent suicide, police said the incident had been "contained" and that only specific sections of that building were shut down.

At 2:05 p.m., hospital officials said that while access to Nelson was still restricted, the rest of the hospital complex had been reopened. Pregnant women in labor, who had been redirected to Hopkins' Bayview campus, were urged to report to the main hospital complex.

Earlier, officials at the Johns Hopkins University issued their own statement to students, faculty and staff with a different tone.

"Please note that traffic in the area is very congested. If you don't need to go to East Baltimore, don't," the statement said. "Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions Security tells us that the situation is contained to the hospital. Access to the main hospital building is restricted. Do not attempt to go to the hospital. Do not go to the School of Nursing, as access there is also restricted because of its proximity to the hospital."

The statement went on to say that those who needed to go to classes at the schools of medicine or public health "may attempt to do so."

Later in the afternoon, Guglielmi said that from the police point of view, the traffic disruptions had been held to a minimum.

"Traffic flowed pretty freely except for the affected area," he said. "For the most part, hospital operations were continuing as close to normal as possible."

Guglielmi said police set up a command post at Wolfe and Madison streets and closed off some blocks in that area. But witnesses reported that traffic continued to flow on the major east-west routes of Orleans and Madison streets and that Broadway remained open.

Service to the Hopkins Metro station continued uninterrupted, Maryland Transit Administration spokesman Terry Owens said, though an underground exit to the hospital was briefly closed.

Guglielmi said police moved to quickly restore the normal flow of traffic and hospital functions once they determined the public was no longer at risk.

"Hopkins is an international destination. People from all over the region have come here for doctor appointments," he said.

After the incident ended, Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels praised the response.

"Those who were directly involved did what they needed to do, calmly and ably," he said. "Those who were not directly involved kept on doing what they are there to do: The hospital remained in operation. Patients were taken care of. Faculty taught, students learned, staff did their critical work in support of the Johns Hopkins mission. I am grateful to you all."

michael.dresser@baltsun.com

Sun reporters Erica Green and Carla Correa contributed to this article.

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