Medical Center of Trinity's badge system adds layer of security
Klint LowryTRINITY - As members of the community have been getting acquainted with the Medical Center of Trinity, they are encountering one feature the minute they walk in the door that may be as new to them as the hospital itself.
Published: July 5, 2012
Published: July 5, 2012
When visitors arrive to cheer up a patient or to welcome the newest member of the family in the obstetrics unit or for any other reason, they must first show their ID at the main entrance reception desk, patient check-in entrance or emergency room desk so they can be issued a visitors badge.
While it has come as a surprise to some people, the badging policy, like many of the medical center's facilities and features, represents the trend in the hospital industry, according to Medical Center of Trinity Chief Operating Officer Thibaut van Marcke.
"Hospitals are private places of business, but we open our doors and we don't really take any precautionary measures to know who's coming in," van Marcke said.
The hospital industry began reconsidering a few years ago, after a couple of shooting incidents in emergency rooms made national news and showed just how vulnerable hospitals are. The issue was considered as Medical Center of Trinity was designed, van Marcke said – how to have a measure of security while still being practical, functional and importantly, unobtrusive.
Considering the hospital's overall policies, asking guests for identification is not that much of a stretch, he said.
"Employees have been badged for years," van Marcke said. "Physicians are badged. A few years ago, we started badging vendors when they are in the building. For us, this was the completion of making sure all folks coming into the facility are badged."
The hospital uses a system called Fast-Pass. It's like the systems area schools have been using for years. When visitors come in, their driver's license or other ID is scanned, and a photo is taken. A paper badge is printed with the person's name, their "guest" status and the unit and room number they are visiting.
While the Fast-Pass system captures the ID information, it does not run a background check, as it does at schools.
"We had an option to purchase a background check; we opted against it," van Marcke said. A hospital has different security considerations than schools, and Medical Center of Trinity administrators did not want to impinge on people's privacy.
Even without background checks, having the system provides security in a number of ways, van Marcke explained. If for some reason they needed to look at when a certain person checked in, it is possible to do so.
The system can be programmed to flag a particular name, for instance, if a patient doesn't want a particular visitor admitted or when law enforcement is looking for someone.
Just having the system helps serves as deterrent factor to anyone who might have less-than above board reasons for coming into the hospital, van Marcke said, since they know they can't just anonymously come and go.
Because most patients' stay at the hospital is just a few days, when someone comes to visit a patient the first time, they are given a pass that's good for three days.
The badging policy had been met with occasional consternation, but switch to issuing three-day passes has helped.
Gale Bauer, the hospital's director of volunteers, said the badges help her people guide visitors in the right direction. The ID tags have particularly gone over with people who have come to visit the obstetrics unit. Besides appreciating the added layer of security, many grandparents and other relatives have experienced school ID systems, so it's nothing new.
"We've seen the acceptance in the community change quite a bit," van Marcke said. "I think most people understand."
For more information on the Medical Center of Trinity visit http://Medicalcentertrinity.com.
Klowry@suncoastnews.com (727) 815-1067