Hudson Regional Hospital in Secaucus is facing $63,000 in fines from the New Jersey Department of Health after a weapons cache was discovered at the facility in July.
That month, law enforcement uncovered the weapons after investigating a bomb threat at the hospital. While it was ultimately a hoax, over 38 different types of weapons were discovered at Hudson Regional Hospital.
Handguns, shotguns, rifles and ammo found at hospital
On July 18, police swept the building in response to reports of a bomb threat, according to a statement by Police Chief Dennis Miller at the time. He said that during the sweep, bomb detection canines from the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office and Bayonne Police Department gave a positive indication on an unlocked closet within an office in which police discovered a large cache of rifles, shotguns and handguns, and assorted ammunition.
In total, 11 handguns of various calibers and 27 rifles and shotguns were discovered. Among these was a .45 caliber semi-automatic rifle with a high-capacity magazine. Additionally, a 14-round high-capacity handgun magazine was also seized. The bomb threat was later determined to be a hoax.
In the wake of the incident, Reuven Alonalayoff, a 46-year-old from Elmwood Park, was arrested on Aug. 7 at Newark Liberty International Airport with assistance from the United States Department of Homeland Security Investigations. He was charged with possession of an assault firearm and two counts of possession of a high-capacity magazine. These charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
While the police described him as the marketing director, in a statement at the time, Hudson Regional Hospital clarified that he was a “non-employee consultant.” In August, police body camera footage of the incident was released.
The video reported by multiple news outlets showed the sheer amount of weaponry stored at the hospital by Alonalayoff. This was a frightening revelation given mass shootings occurring with increasing frequency across the United States.
“The presence of weapons in a hospital is inexcusable beyond comprehension and contradicts our mission of care and our commitment to the safety of our community of staff, patients and the extended community,” the hospital said in a statement at the time. “While regrettable, this incident has given us occasion to review security protocols and we have taken steps to assure that it will never happen again.”
Fined for multiple violations with NJDOH
Now, the hospital has been issued fines from the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH), according to the four-page assessment of penalties issued on Nov. 30. The NJDOH conducted a complaint survey at the hospital on Aug. 23.
The reason behind the the fines is for the hospital not notifying the state within three hours of the Secaucus Police Department investigating the bomb threat and uncovering the weapons cache. According to the NJDOH, Hudson Regional Hospital was also in violation because it failed to keep a violence prevention plan and implement policies and procedures to maintain a safe hospital environment.
The NJDOH stated that the facility security failed to inquire about and identify the weapons brought to the hospital by a now-former employee. The state also highlighted how a facility staffer did become aware of the weapons, but did not report the discovery to hospital security.
According to the NJDOH, when Alonalayoff brought the firearms into the facility, they were not visible to onlookers or security personnel as they were contained in cases and were covered with plastic. In addition, when the unnamed staffer discovered Alonalayoff’s weapons cache one day when she entered his office to use the restroom while he wasn’t there, she saw the weapons inside but did not report them because it was not any “of her business.”
As such, the hospital faces a $63,000 fine. $61,000 of that consists of a $1,000 per day fine for the staff member leaving the firearms in the closet without reporting them from July 11 to Sept. 9. September 9 is the day that the facility educated staff on policies and procedures to maintain a safe hospital environment.
Hudson Regional Hospital also faces two more violations for an additional $2,000 in fines for not reporting the bomb threat and weapons cache to the NJDOH within the required time period. This includes two violations of $1,000 each for not reporting the bomb threat or weapons cache within three hours.
Hudson Regional Hospital working with NJDOH
Following the news of the fine, Hudson Regional Hospital released a statement noting they were working with the NJDOH. The hospital said it was working to ensure this would not happen again.
“Hudson Regional Hospital designed a corrective action plan in response to a notice from the Department of Health concerning an incident where firearms were discovered in the hospital,” Hudson Regional Hospital said in a statement to the Hudson Reporter on Dec. 7. “The DOH accepted our plan, which was implemented and is in force, preventing any such incidents from occurring in the future. The DOH noticed us of its penalties for the infraction, which we are remitting in due course.”
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at email@example.com.