A fight between family and friends in the emergency room lobby at Grand Strand Regional Medical Center prompted a lockdown at the hospital Saturday, the first in years, said hospital spokeswoman Joan Carroza.
In her 18 years at the hospital, Carroza said she could not recall a similar crisis lockdown – in which doors are locked and visitors are limited – other than during a hurricane. Nevertheless, she said staff were prepared for such an eventuality.
“It’s not a surprise to us,” Carroza said about Saturday’s extra security, which lasted from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. She said hospital staff routinely go through drills on how to deal with everything from inclement weather to mass casualties.
In the hospital parking lot around 1 p.m. Saturday, there was no evidence a lockdown was in progress. Some golf carts, possibly used by security members, were parked outside the front of the ER entrance.
Carroza said patients were still admitted and discharged from the hospital Saturday during the lockdown. Family members were able to visit relatives but had to inform security of who they were there to see.
“The lockdown is just an added security measure,” Carroza said.
She said three people were brought in with gunshot wounds between 4 and 4:30 a.m. Saturday. Family and friends came with the three, and a fight broke out between the group.
Horry County and Myrtle Beach police departments were called and joined hospital security in getting everyone to leave except for one family member per patient, Carroza said.
Hospital security decided to implement the lockdown for added protection for patients and staff. All entrances were locked, except for the one to the ER, which is being manned by security personnel, Carroza said.
She had no information on the three patients or what led to the fight in the hospital.
Horry County Police Sgt. Robert Kegler said via email there were two shootings in the early morning hours. One was at Crush Gentlemen’s Club, located at 4707 U.S. 17 Bypass South, and the other at Red Barn Tavern, at 2635 U.S. 17 Bypass South.
Kegler said he had no information as to whether the two shootings and the hospital fight were related.
Messages left with the Myrtle Beach Police Department were not returned Saturday afternoon.
The three incidents capped a violent 24 hours across Horry County.
On Friday, two men were taken to a hospital – one with a gunshot wound, the other with a stab wound – after an argument over property turned violent in Galivants Ferry.
Both were listed in good condition. No arrests have been made and no charges have been filed at this time.