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City Hospital increases securty in birthing ward

An infant abduction alarm system has been installed in the hospital's newborn area, officials said.

An infant abduction alarm system has been installed in the hospital's newborn area, officials said.

December 10, 2002|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - New security measures have taken effect at City Hospital in Martinsburg, W.Va., including strictly monitored access to the newborn baby area, and a lockdown from 9 p.m. to 5:30 a.m., hospital officials say.

Cameras, which record activity, are trained on areas inside and outside the building. Only visitors approved by new mothers will be permitted to visit the hospital's seventh-floor Birthing Center, according to a press release issued Monday by hospital officials.

"The primary reason, or the impetus behind (the new security measures) was related to the seventh floor, the OB area," Teresa McCabe, director of marketing and development for the hospital, said in a telephone interview.

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Also in the newborn area, an infant abduction alarm system has been installed. McCabe said the approach is proactive, saying no abductions have taken place, and she is not aware of any attempted abductions.

"This is more of a preventive thing," McCabe said.

Elsewhere, after 9 p.m., access to other areas of the hospital from the emergency room will be restricted. In the past, the hospital has experienced some minor problems from people wandering around the building at night, including vandalism to vending machines, McCabe said. People will be able to leave, but not enter after hours unless they have authorization or a hospital ID badge, according to the release.

The emergency room doors will remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, McCabe said.

The changes were not prompted by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, McCabe said.

Thousands of patients pass through City Hospital's doors. Last year, around 930 babies were born there, and more than 7,000 people were admitted, McCabe said. Hospital officials do not know how many visitors came, McCabe said, because it is difficult to keep track.

Under the new system, people will still be able to stay overnight with their loved ones if they wish, as long as proper measures are followed, McCabe said.

Anyone with approval to visit a patient at the Birthing Center must stop by the emergency control center in the main lobby to receive a coded badge, according to the release.

Immediate family members who wish to visit a patient after routine visiting hours may come to the front entrance and use a specialized phone to the left of the bi-fold doors. This call will be picked up by a control center technician, who can grant the person entrance if clearance is received. A badge will then be issued to allow access to the elevators and the desired nursing unit, officials said.

Planning for the security measures began around two years ago, McCabe said, while some of the equipment became operational over the summer.

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