Leaders at a Vineland hospital where a patient shot himself last month say they’re pleased with efforts to improve security procedures.
The patient, 57-year-old Vineland resident Michael S. Romanik, was a 57-year-old retired Millville police officer who’d been admitted to the hospital four days earlier, suffering from a long-term, terminal ailment, according to a police report.
The suicide took place about 8:30 a.m. in Room 305 in the facility’s intensive care unit. Staff either evacuated the building or sought shelter inside, some calling 911 to speak in hushed tones with dispatchers.
An initial report of a possible “active shooter” at Inspira Health in Vineland sent police racing to the facility. Follow-up calls eventually established a suicide had occurred with no other victims. Police reports say Romanik may have brought a 9mm pistol to the hospital in a disposable Wawa bag with other belongings.
Romanik’s caregiver, who also was his former wife, had called an ambulance to take him to the hospital because he had a possibly infected leg wound. Romanik at that time reportedly told his former wife, “I’m not gonna make it.”
According to the police investigation, immediately before the shooting, a nurse assigned to Romanik had entered his room and saw blood on his bed sheets. In police reports, the nurse reported pulling back the sheets and seeing “a large amount of blood leaking from his left side, along with a ‘knife.'”
The nurse tossed the knife — later determined to be a multi-tool — aside “and attempted to tend to his wounds, where he brandished a handgun with his right hand, placed it under his jaw, and fired the gun,” the report said.
Hospital security took possession of the pistol, turning it over to police and recovered the multi-tool with an extended blade and what appeared to be blood on the blade, a report states.
The report continues that the nurse stated Romanik had not shown any suicidal behaviors or spoken about hurting himself. It is unclear what state regulatory officials have done since the incident. The New Jersey Department of Health had no public comment.
“We are continuing to train our clinical and administrative staff on awareness of risk factors and threat assessment, continuing to invest in technologies that help reduce exposure to critical incidents, and are introducing new video training modules on situational awareness,” says Inspira spokeswoman Kathy Scullin-Marinelli.
“As caregivers, we are mindful that anytime a loved one or friend may share suicidal ideation that contacting the police is essential, as law enforcement has the ability to often skillfully intervene before a person takes their life.”
State HPAE President Debbie White adds, “I think that these improvements we are hearing about are very encouraging. But it’s not just that. The employer is meeting regularly with our leaders. And they are assuring them that they’re implementing screening processes and tools and systems and devices that will keep the workplace safer.”