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Hospital revises security policy

Non-employees visiting Washington County Hospital are now required to get authorization to enter the building between 8 p.m. and

Non-employees visiting Washington County Hospital are now required to get authorization to enter the building between 8 p.m. and

November 19, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - In order to improve patient security, Washington County Hospital has started requiring non-employees to get authorization to enter the building between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., spokeswoman Kelly Redmond said Monday.

Security guards and hospital nurses will give one-day, color-coded passes to those authorized to enter the building during those hours, Redmond said. The requirement began Monday.

People will be required to give their names and where they need to go inside the hospital, she said.

The changes are intended to provide more control and information about who is in the hospital, she said.

It is not good, from a safety perspective, for people who do not belong at the hospital to be able to enter easily at night, said Barry Nickelsberg, executive director of development, community relations and marketing for the Washington County Health System, the hospital's parent company.

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There have been times when people visiting patients accidentally go to another floor, confusing employees who do not who they are, he said.

The hospital's general visiting hours, 2 to 8 p.m. daily, will remain the same.

But after visiting hours, the entrance to the hospital's main lobby will be locked. All individuals requesting to enter after 8 p.m. should enter the hospital through the emergency/trauma entrance and check in at the security desk. Authorized visitors must wear the pass that is valid for that day and unit.

The change was recommended by a security consultant and a hospital task force, Redmond said.

Another change, made about two months ago, requires all staff members in the Family Birthing Center to wear a specific uniform that is not worn by employees in any other department, Redmond said. The change makes it easier to identify whether an employee belongs at the centers, she said.

The uniforms are intended to reduce the possibility of kidnappings of newborn babies, Redmond said. There have been no kidnappings of children at Washington County Hospital but it has occurred elsewhere in the nation, she said.

The changes at the hospital's entrance are not intended to deter visitors, she said.

"Visitors are an important part of maintaining a safe and secure environment at the hospital for all patients and staff," Barbara Everly, chairperson for the hospital's visitor task force, said in a news release. "We appreciate the cooperation and understanding of visitors about this important policy change."

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