Following the February abduction of a newborn at The Medical Center of Central Georgia, the hospital has bolstered security measures, a hospital official said Wednesday.
Visitors to the maternity ward now must show identification, patients must verify they are expecting guests, and restrictions have been placed on which personnel have access to the ward, said Andy Galloway, the Medical Center's senior vice president.
The new measures went into effect a week ago, he said.
"We determined that we had a really good system in place and there were some small things that would make it better than it was," Galloway said.
Other changes include an upgrade of the security system software and a requirement that mothers receive extra training about keeping babies safe.
Jack Dowling, a security consultant in Pennsylvania who has been an expert witness in hospital security litigation cases, said requiring identification and verifying that patients are expecting visitors are significant and effective steps.
Dowling said enhancements in education and software also are appropriate moves after a security breach.
"Every time there's any security incident anywhere ... immediate reaction steps should be to increase what you're doing," he said. "It doesn't mean that what they were doing previously wasn't reasonable or was inadequate."
The Medical Center's changes followed an external and internal evaluation of security measures in the wake of 4-day-old Timillion Keshon Trawick's kidnapping, Galloway said.
Timillion was taken Feb. 6 from his mother's room at the Medical Center by a 16-year-old posing a hospital employee, authorities said. The teenager, whose case is in juvenile court and whose name has not been released, was charged with kidnapping.
Authorities said the teen set off an alarm when Timillion was taken out of the maternity ward. About six minutes later, she exited the hospital with the baby and asked a stranger for a ride, authorities said. A tip led police to a home on Hawthorne Street where the 16-year-old and Timillion were found five hours after the abduction. The baby was returned to his mother.
Galloway said in the case of an abduction, no measures will be taken to prevent the public from exiting the hospital. He said most of the new measures are preventative.
Concerning the kidnapping, Galloway said luck aided the abductor. Within seconds of the teen leaving the ward, she was able to step onto an elevator without having to wait and employees seeking to secure the elevators missed her by seconds, he said. Galloway said the new software should alert employees sooner to an abduction.
"Certainly we think the (new) measures would prevent that; however, we're operating a hospital." he said. "It's not Fort Knox, and it's not a prison. It can't be perfect, but we will work hard to make it as good as it can be."
Dowling said he couldn't comment on the Medical Center's overall security because he hadn't seen it firsthand, but he agreed that no security measures are perfect.
"It's an expectation that the average person would have but it's not realistic," Dowling said. "It's obviously not possible. There's no environment I'm aware of that's crime free."
Peter Ross, an Atlanta lawyer who is representing Timillion's parents, Keisha Robinson and Roy Trawick, said Wednesday the baby is in good health.
Ross said he has tried to contact the hospital regarding the abduction but hospital officials have not responded. Ross said he wasn't made aware of the security changes.
Ross said a lawsuit against the hospital is likely, but Galloway would not comment on that possibility.
"I think we were as prepared as any hospital," Galloway said, "and I think we are better prepared than we were," he said.