Hospital Board Approves New Infant Security System

So far, Humboldt General Hospital has never had to issue a “Code Pink”—and hospital officials would like to keep it that way.

Code Pink is the almost universally adopted code word signaling that an infant abduction is taking place. Though rare by comparison to other hospital codes, officials made it clear recently that their focus is on preventative rather than reactive measures.

Tuesday, July 28, members of the Humboldt County Hospital District Board of Trustees voted to purchase an eight-monitor infant security system for the Mother and Baby Unit.

The hospital’s current system is down to three functioning monitors which, according to HGH Chief of Staff and Family Practice/OB Physician Len Perkinson, is not adequate.

Both Dr. Perkinson and Dr. Brad Granath routinely deliver multiple babies within a 24-hour period. And while it is rare to have as many as eight OB patients in the hospital at once, Dr. Perkinson said it happens occasionally with a delivery of twins or an infant holdover.

“It does not happen very often,” he told board members, “but when it does, eight is busy!”

That’s one of the features that board members liked most about the new system: it is expandable. They also liked that the system is compatible with the hospital’s other alarm systems.

An additional feature of the new system is that each mom and infant can be fitted with a transmitter “match up” that verifies the infant identity to the correct mother; the infant transmitter will also set off an alarm if the infant is removed from the OB unit.

HGH Maternity/Neonatal Services Manager Lorrie Meiron said the hospital routinely hosts mock “code pink” drills to prepare staff for the possibility of an attempted infant abduction.

“So this new monitoring system will help our staff members be even more prepared and efficient in the way they respond to a possible threat against one of our babies,” she said.

Meiron said it also presents one more step in the hospital’s efforts to improve infant security.

In November 2013, the hospital began locking the Mother and Baby Unit to the public. Now, only those with authorization are able to enter the department via an intercom system.

“We are a community hospital,” said Meiron of the security measures, “and we want our community members to feel comfortable here and to feel like they are welcome.”

However, Meiron said that infant security concerns have necessitated a shift in the department’s policy.

“We have not had any issues to date with the security of our infants,” she said, “but other hospitals have, and we are just taking the necessary measures now to ensure that our infants will be safe and protected.”