SUTTER MEDICAL: Lack of Security Aided in Infant Abduction
Inadequate security policies at Sutter Medical Center allowed a San Francisco couple to abduct their infant daughter from the hospital's protective custody, the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reports. A report released by state officials under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that "lack of infant security policies and lax supervision of the parents" helped the couple -- Julie Ann Baird and Jason Dunn -- to enter the infant ward after being told they had lost custody of their child. The couple then removed the child's security bracelet and fled the hospital in a waiting car. Nurses on staff said they allowed the parents to see the child because it "was more important to encourage the bonding process." They added, "[W]e're nurses, we're not police." In response to the security breach, Sutter Medical Center instituted several changes, which have yet to be approved by the state. In addition to locking stairwell doors and installing security cameras, the hospital now issues electronic security bracelets to children up to age 14. New policies for children placed under police protection have also been implemented. Such infants are under constant supervision and have security transmitters attached to their ankles. Also, staff must wear color-coded security badges and use codes or ring a doorbell to enter the pediatrics ward. Beginning this month, a new nighttime visitor check-in policy will require visitors to name who they are seeing and show identification. Madrone Williams, director of women's and children's services at Sutter Medical, said the security changes have forced a change in hospital philosophy. She noted that in the past, the hospital has maintained an "open hearted, family centered approach," allowing family and friends to make visits after hours. Although limiting access to pediatric patients, the new safeguards are designed to "help families feel more secure and safe," Williams said. She added, "We've gone way above and beyond what this particular case warranted" (Rossmann, 2/29).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.