PORTLAND -- A man threatened to shoot himself in the head in the emergency room of Southwest Portland's Providence St. Vincent Hospital Thursday, and a nurse is getting credit for calming the man.
Deputies said 48-year-old Joseph Spina of Portland walked into the waiting room of the E.R. at about 7 a.m. and complained to the attending nurse of a medical condition. When he didn't get the medication he wanted, deputies said Spina pulled out a handgun and put it to his head and chest, threatening to shoot himself.
The nurse calmly told him she couldn't treat him if he had a gun. As they talked, she eventually convinced him to lay the gun down. That's when another employee moved it away and got the man into a secure area.
"The nurse felt very threatened that he could harm her, shoot her," explained Sgt. Vance Stimler of the Washington County Sheriff's Office. "So she went into her 30-plus years of experience and said 'I'm not comfortable treating you with a gun' and it worked! She was thinking on her feet. She made the right decision and it worked out."
Spina was charged with robbery and unlawful use of a weapon and was booked in the Washington County Jail. He does not have a criminal history. Deputies searched his Portland home and didn't find any other problems, but said the episode was a real cry for help.
The hospital did not go into lockdown, but a spokeswoman said emergency training did pay off.
The hospital also sent out this statement to all employees, following the incident:
Dear PSVMC Employees,
We're grateful this morning for the quick and wise actions taken by the team in our Emergency Department and our security officers. As you might have heard, we had a person with a gun enter the ED this morning. The situation resolved itself quickly and peacefully, thanks to the great work of the people who were on the scene.
The training and experience of our employees kept our patients and employees safe. Thanks to everyone for their excellent response. Throughout the incident, the ED team provided care to our patients and we have resumed normal operations.
Thanks again to everyone who played a part in bringing this incident to a safe conclusion.
Nancy Roberts, chief operating officer Martie Moore, chief nursing officer