BRISTOL - Bristol Hospital on Wednesday launched a new security measure requiring all adult visitors to check in and obtain a pass before being allowed to move about in the building.
“Our administration wants to be proactive and not reactive in hospital security,” said hospital spokesman Christopher Boyle, adding that the hospital has been fortunate to be able to institute a policy like this without have experienced a significant incident as a driving factor.
Visitors to the hospital who are 18 or older will now be required to present photo identification before being given a 24-hour pass.
The technology the hospital uses takes the photo from a driver’s license and copies it onto a paper pass with adhesive on one side. It must be worn at all times in the hospital and voids itself with ink that appears after 24 hours.
Adults without a license or other photo ID will have to provide their names and have their photos taken for the pass.
Hospital officials emphasized that the system they use does not take any more information from a driver’s license than name, photograph and state issuing the license.
“It’s a balancing act,” Boyle said. “We want people to feel secure, but not intimidated.”
Hospital officials want the community to know about the new security measure so they can anticipate possible delays when visiting.
“We just ask that people be a little bit patient while we get used to this new system,” Boyle said.
Kevin Havee, manager of biomedical engineering and environmental services and facilities, added that a guest’s wait time should be shorter after the first visit, as the hospital’s database will then have the guest’s identity in its database.
The new system, said Darius Erami, systems director of support services, also allows security staff to more easily prevent a guest from visiting a patient if the patient so requests.
The launch of the system “has been pretty good so far,” Erami said, as the line to check in was no longer than three people on Wednesday afternon. “It’s been well received.”
For now, visitors who are given a pass can leave the hospital and re-enter without having to check in again. But, Erami said, hospital officials will be fine tuning the new policy over the coming weeks and months.
“We’re still trying to figure out what works best,” Erami said.
According to Boyle, requiring a guest to wear a pass is being done more at hospitals around the nation. He believes it’s what most hospitals will be looking to do in the next several years, if they haven’t already.
“Taking the temperature of the community,” Boyle said, referring to a post on Facebook in which the hospital announced the new security measure, “people are really supportive of this.”
While the hospital has been exposed to threats of violence, Havee said, none of them has ever materialized beyond “Facebook chatter.”
Boyle said the new pass policy is just one way the hospital has ramped up its security.
“We’ve done things like added cameras and taken other steps, but we don’t want to show our whole playbook,” Boyle said.
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or firstname.lastname@example.org.