[This is the third and final part of our series on infant abduction prevention for hospitals. You can read Part 1 (background on infant abductions) and Part 2 (the "M.O." of abductors) if you haven't already.]
Why are Hospitals Targets?
Part of a hospital's image has been to maintain an open door policy for anyone that wants to come to visit a sick family member or loved-one. If you're close to my age, you may even remember when people used to go to the hospital just to see the babies. There was nothing unusual at all about being on the baby floor.
But as crime has continued to grow in this country, we find we are not guaranteed safety in our businesses, our schools, or even in our own homes. All of these places have become targets of criminal assault, and as a result, we have been forced to increase security in every facet of our public and private life -- all of this in an effort to keep crime away. Most hospitals have been slow to follow suit. Even today, many hospitals still have the same open door policy they have practiced for decades.
Hospitals are targets because they are open to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These public access facilities have been conditioned over the years to allow scores of people from all walks of life to enter their institutions unchallenged, day or night. The definition of "public access" means that all persons that enter a hospital seeking treatment, or to visit a loved-one, have the right to come and go as they please, and for many facilities, this is still the practice. This mindset does not take into consideration that there are people in our society that hold no institution sacred, and their sole reason to enter a hospital is to commit a crime against a person, the hospital, or both. Unfortunately because of the continuing criminal threat against hospitals, it's no longer possible to practice an open door policy.
For a hospital to be safe in today's world, everyone coming into and going out of the hospital has to be identified and controlled. This is essential to prevent unauthorized persons from entering a hospital to cause harm. Security protection has been extremely difficult in the past because of unrealistic and misinterpreted fire codes. Strict enforcement of fire codes has prevented hospitals from securing fire doors that lead to the outside. An unsecured fire door, leading to the outside, provides an escape route for anyone that comes into the hospital for the purpose of committing a criminal act against the hospital. After what seems forever, old fire codes are now being replaced with new codes that will allow fire exits to be locked and alarmed by a time delay lock and alarm system. This type of "lockdown" capability can prevent unauthorized persons from entering or leaving the hospital undetected.
Another significant problem with providing security for older hospitals is their inherently open design makes them difficult to secure. Traditionally hospitals have been designed for patient and family convenience. Security was never taken into consideration during the design and construction phase. Because of this inherent problem, retrofitting security protection in an older facility is a security nightmare, not to mention unbelievably expensive to the hospitals.