Local Hospitals Take A Look at Security Procedures - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

6/12/06

Local Hospitals Take A Look at Security Procedures

Monday marks the one week anniversary of when Lubbock Police returned Baby Priscilla Maldonado to her parents. Her accused kidnapper Stephanie Jones led authorities to a North Lubbock Condominium where she was lying in her car-seat underneath a carport.

Jones is accused of posing as a nurse in order to befriend the family in a plot to steal the newborn, who was just four days old at the time of her abduction. A tip led police to Jones. She remains in the Lubbock County Jail.

NewsChannel 11 spoke with both University Medical Center and Covenant Health Systems. Since last week's kidnapping they've reviewed their security measures and are not looking to change anything at this time. But it is something that is always being reviewed and updated, especially when it comes to newborn and infant safety.

"The birth of a baby is probably the most exciting thing in a family's life, and they want their family and friends to be there to celebrate with them," said UMC Vice President Greg Bruce.

It's a joyous occasion, but while parents are adoring their newborn, hospitals are making sure the little one is safe. "Immediately when they baby is born a transponder is placed on the child," Bruce said.

And the same procedures take place at Covenant. "Once the baby is born they are brought to the nursery and we put an infant security tag on the baby," said Covenant Lakeside Nurse Manager Sheila Swanson.

Gone are the days of baby name bands, now both University Medical Center and Covenant Lakeside have high-tech safety procedures in place to prevent a newborn from being taken from their hospitals. "These babies that have the sensors on cannot get off this unit," Swanson said.  

The transponders placed on the babies serve as a barrier to any exits. If close to an elevator or stairwell, doors immediately lock and the elevators will not move more. But no matter how much security is in place both hospitals say it's up to the patient to be vigilant.

"We don't screen every visitor that comes here. Just because of the volume, and patients tell us they want their family with them. So we have to balance safety and security of our patients with the desires of our patients as well," Bruce said.

Staff and employees at both Covenant and UMC are required to wear hospital issued picture ID cards. The hospitals say that patients should always be aware of who comes in and out of their rooms.

"That's the first line of defense that we have to identify suspicious activity is through our patients," Bruce said.

"Once the baby is transitioned in the newborn nursery and goes to parents, then against we educate them on not letting anyone take that baby for any purpose," Swanson said.  

Both hospitals tell patients that if they do have a question about who comes into their room, or who has contact with their baby to speak to their nurse or someone they trust.

The hospitals also provide their staff with on-going education on the profiles of an infant abductor and what to watch for.

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