Healthcare security officers often are the unsung heroes at a hospital. Whether they are doing mundane tasks, such as monitoring video surveillance cameras, or extraordinary feats, such as saving the life of a suicidal patient or verbally de-escalating a potentially violent situation, hospital security officers deserve to be recognized for all of their hard work.
That’s why the Los Angeles/Orange County chapter of the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS) hosts its annual Healthcare Security Officer of the Year awards luncheon every fall. Now in its fourth year, the program honors hospital security professionals for their distinguished performance over the past 12 months. This year’s event was held Oct. 18 at Tamayo Restaurant in Los Angeles.
The top award was presented to Public Safety Lead Officer Mike Zendejas from Martin Luther King (MLK) Jr. Community Hospital in Los Angeles for saving an employee’s life.
“In July 2018, a hospital employee was escorting a psych patient to and from a nearby restroom and allowed for the psych patient to enter the restroom unmonitored and close the door behind them,” wrote Zendejas’ nominators. “This action allowed for the pysch patient to remove an ‘emergency-call’ cord located within the restroom and conceal the long cord on his person. When the psych patient exited and attempted to walk towards the escorting hospital employee, the psych patient removed the long rope and attempted to strangle the employee by wrapping the cord around her neck. PS Lead Officer M. Zendejas’ quick observation and response allowed for him to intervene within seconds and help save the assaulted employees life. PS Lead Officer M. Zendejas was able to subdue the patient with the assistance of nearby Law Enforcement personnel and multiple responding Public Safety personnel. PS Lead Officer M. Zendejas’ actions proved once again to his peers and leaders alike his commitment to serve and his dedication to being a public servant. The MLK Community Hospital Public Safety Department has been extremely fortunate to have PS Lead Officer M. Zendejas as a leader and as a part of the team.”
Huntington Hospital Lead Officer Walter Escobar was named runner up for his effective handling of car theft suspects who outnumbered him 2 to 1. During the incident, Escobar was physically assaulted by one of the suspects.
In addition to Zendejas and Escobar, 21 other healthcare security officers were honored at the event. They were:
- Willie Fletcher, LA County – USC
- Enrique Munoz, LA County – USC
- Jesus Ruiz, LA County – USC
- Trishelle Cardenas, LA County – USC
- Jose Rivera, LA County – USC
- Brittany Hill, LA County – USC
- Victor Saucedo, St. Jude Medical Center
- Antaye Theus, Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center
- Navidreza Motiefar, St. Joseph Heritage Healthcare
- James Mongenegro, Eisenhower Medical Center
- Victoria Kavuma, Valley Presbyterian
- Terri McKenzie, Adventist Health
- Josie Gomez, PIH
- Vincent Medina, Hoag Hospital
- Robert Sanko, CHOC
- Jesse Reyes, San Gorgonia Memorial
- Phillip Castro III, UCLA
- Jose Gonzales-Pena, ALTA Med 1st Street
- Monica Sandoval, USC Keck
- Danny Agramont, UCI
- Dan Aguilar, UCI
Congratulations to all of this year’s winners!
All photos courtesy LA/OC IAHSS
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