EDITORIAL: De-escalation training needed at York Hospital
We can only hope WellSpan York Hospital has learned something and never treats another grieving family the way it did Nylik Moore’s on April 24.
The 18-year-old’s parents were not allowed to see their son’s body shortly after he died of gunshot wounds, leading to a confrontation between a crowd of family members, York City officers and hospital security officers — a melee that was caught on video.
It led to the teen’s mother and three others being arrested and taken away in handcuffs to the county's central booking unit, where they received disorderly conduct citations.
The situation outside the emergency room "rapidly escalated beyond anybody's expectations," said Dr. Daniel Carney, the hospital's medical director of trauma surgery, who added it was the first time he's ever seen that level of escalation on hospital grounds.
We’re not sure why WellSpan officials were surprised by the reaction.
On the contrary — they should have expected such an emotional reaction from any grieving family prevented from seeing the body of a loved one.
Moore died at York Hospital at 5:38 p.m. April 24, about half an hour after he was shot in York City. Family members arrived a half hour after that, and his parents were escorted to a waiting room, where they were told their son was gone.
The parents — Cheirha Rankins and Roger Moore Jr. — asked to see his body but were told that wasn’t possible at that moment because of the immediate condition of both Moore's body and the trauma bay, as well as the fact that there were a number of other patients being treated in the emergency room.
At 6:15 p.m., Moore's parents went outside to speak with a growing number of Moore's loved ones outside the emergency department. The crowd was upset, emotions were high, and the police were called.
"But all we were doing was crying and moaning," Rankins said — shocked and anguished by the news of Moore's death.
She and three others were taken away, cited and released.
Rankins returned to the hospital after being released and again asked to view her son's body, she has said.
The emergency department had already been placed on lockdown, which is a standard safety measure when a violent-crime victim is brought there, according to Shelly Buck, York Hospital's vice president, chief operating officer and chief nursing officer.
As a deputy county coroner was about to summon Moore's family back to view his body, she was told by a hospital employee that the hospital wouldn't allow it, according to York County Coroner Pam Gay.
The hospital staff then left it to the deputy coroner to relay the information to the family, the coroner said.
"I was more than a little surprised. I was very disappointed," Gay said. "I understand emotions can run high in those kinds of situations, but I think we have to put ourselves in the family's shoes. And that's what we try to do."
Buck apologized for the way things played out. "Looking back, we wish we had made a different decision," she said.
York Hospital spokesman Dan Carrigan acknowledged the hospital didn't have a "well-established procedure in place" to address the situation but said hospital officials are now working to create that procedure and will work with the coroner's office to do so.
The incident highlighted the fact that York Hospital doesn't have a viewing room for family members to see deceased loved ones, according to Buck.
She said hospital officials are discussing the idea of creating a family viewing room. The York County Coroner's Office uses the hospital's morgue at no cost as its own morgue, the coroner has said.
We hope WellSpan’s new procedures also include a training program that does a better job balancing legitimate safety concerns with compassion for traumatized family members.
Someone on staff must know how to recognize and de-escalate a situation like this — not make it worse.