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Hospital staff safety in the spotlight after 2 killed at Dallas Methodist

Annette Flowers and Jacqueline Pokuaa were shot and killed at Methodist Dallas Medical Center. Organizations say healthcare worker safety has always been a concern.

DALLAS — They are remembered fondly by family, friends, and coworkers: Annette Flowers and Jacqueline Pokuaa.

Flowers was a 63-year-old nurse. Pokuaa was a 45-year-old social worker. 

They were on the mother and baby department floor on Saturday morning at Methodist Dallas Medical Center. Police say both were shot and killed by a suspect named Nestor Hernandez.

National Nurses United is a union that advocates for nurses across the country. Jean Ross, NNU's President and a registered nurse, describes the incident as horrific. "We mourn with you," said Ross. "Hospitals are supposed to be a place to heal. They are not supposed to be a place of harm."

National Nurses United is pushing for legislation to implement violence prevention plans for frontline workers. It includes better staffing, training and reporting without fear of retaliation. Ross said hospitals need to be on the same page.

Ross said, "This is not supposed to be a war."

Lawrence Garcia, CEO of Ameriguard, is a security expert. He said hospitals can be vulnerable. "We have to make sure that entrance is manned with enough officers that can also check bags, run things through the magnetometer," said Garcia. 

In this situation, the suspect is a known felon on probation. Garcia said more knowledge and access control could have prevented this. 

"Communication is the key and being present and a deterrent at the main entrance of these places," Garcia said.

For the loved ones of Flowers and Pokuaa, private candlelight vigils will be held on Wednesday night at Methodist Dallas Medical Center. The hospital said these will be for employees only.

Security Review at Parkland 

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins told WFAA Tuesday night that a third-party contractor spent all day Tuesday reviewing possible security vulnerabilities at Parkland Hospital following the shooting. 

The contractor is expected to continue its review at the hospital on Wednesday. 

The visit was scheduled weeks ago, but Jenkins telling WFAA that Saturday's shooting makes the review more crucial. 

"This is a tragedy that should have never happened," Jenkins said Tuesday. 

"We want to put in security protocols and address vulnerabilities--hopefully so what happened at Methodist doesn't happen at any other hospital." 

Methodist hasn't elaborated on its security review but is analyzing what happened to better security practices. 

The shooting also came as violence and hostility grows toward healthcare workers nationwide. 

Jenkins--very familiar with that and says it's happening in Dallas County too. 

"I wish I could say that it's a complete surprise, but again, we are seeing more and more violence and mental instability in people that come into our hospitals," Jenkins said. 

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