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.”