September 21, 2003

Hospital Security

This is one high security maternity ward we’ve get here. In the first place, you’re got the wristbands. I have one, and Viola has one. Sam has one on his wrist and one on his ankle. All the wristbands have numbers printed on them, and all the numbers match. If you go anywhere with the baby, they check the numbers. If they take the baby to the nursery, they check the numbers. If they bring the baby back, they check the numbers. If I go to the nursery to see the baby, they check the numbers. Without your numbers, you’re nothing. They even have the numbers on the bassinet, which has its own set of rules. When the baby leaves the room, he must be in the bassinet. You can’t carry him around the ward in your arms, he must be in the bassinet. When he goes to the nursery, he must be in the bassinet.

The next layer of security is at the front door. The door to the ward is locked. There is an intercom there, and a video camera. To get in, you have to push the intercom button and be subjected to 20 questions by the desk staff, all while being watched on the monitor. If this screening goes well, you are let in. If you’re lucky and you’ve been there for a few days, they’ll recognize you on the monitor and open the door without the 20 questions. But you can’t always count on that. So you always have to be ready to be grilled.

The final method of security is the most technologically advanced. There is a magnetic chip implanted in the baby’s umbilical cord clamp. This clamp goes with the baby everywhere. All of the doors leading into and out of the maternity ward have a sensor built in to them. If one of those magnetic chips gets within twenty feet of the door, the entire hospital goes into lockdown. Alarms sound, the doors lock, the elevators shut down, steel plates cover all the windows, the sewers are sealed, and thirty-seven SWAT members charge down the hall. Presumably the perpetrator is arrested and taken away to a dark cell in the basement while the baby is taken back to the room and surgically attatched to the mother.

All of these measures are meant to defend against kidnapping. Having a baby taken I’m sure is one of the worst nightmares of any maternity nurse. That actually just happened in Reno a few years ago. A woman decided one day to lie to her husband that she was pregnant. Apparently this guy wasn’t too bright, because she was able to string him along for an entire imaginary nine month pregnancy. But then, when the 40th week arrived, she knew there was no way she could keep up the ruse. I mean, maybe she could say that the baby was a few weeks late, but sooner or later he’d catch on to the truth. So one day she got on the bus and went down to a local hospital, and somehow snatched one of the babies and walked off with it. She then went to one of the other hospitals across town, called her husband, and told him she had the kid and asked to be picked up. I don’t remember what her downfall was, but obviously she was able to get away with it for a short while. That incidient, I’m sure, was the September 11th of the labor and delivery industry. Security may have good before, sure, but ever since then everything’s been hightened and everybody’s been on edge. So they’re determined to make sure nothing like that happens again.

I fully expect that when we finally go to take the baby home, we’ll have to have a blood check, a retina scan, and a DNA test before we’re able to get him out of there. And we’ll be escorted to the car by an FBI agent.

Filed under The Computer Vet Weblog

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