Over the past two years, Cottage Health System has increased its security in a number of ways in an effort to provide the safest possible environment for our patients, employees, physicians, and volunteers. Most of these changes are not visible to the public.
We are not alone among hospitals nationwide in needing to address issues of safety, inappropriate or erratic behavior, even violence. Recent incidents both in and outside of Santa Barbara have heightened our awareness of the fundamental responsibility we have in this regard. Certainly the abduction of an infant earlier this year, in spite of Cottage's security systems being among the best available, reinforces the need to be ever vigilant in protecting all patients who entrust us with their care.
Introduction of the new patient and visitor identification system has gone smoothly, and we want to acknowledge the cooperation of all those whose habits have had to change regarding entrances and exits to our hospitals. We appreciate your stopping at our entry desks in order to identify yourself, and to indicate whether you are visiting a patient or coming for tests or treatment. The greeters at these entrances are there to assist you both in obtaining the badge and in providing directions to the appropriate department or patient care unit. In order for patients and visitors to access the hospital as quickly as possible, we have asked physicians and employees to enter through other secured entrances. Please don't ask employees to let you in behind them through these secured entrances. It presents a conflict for them in trying to help you while also assuring that security is not breached.
These security controls are occurring at each of the Cottage hospitals-in Santa Barbara, Goleta and Santa Ynez Valley. It's a challenging task. Currently, more than 4,000 individuals enter through the doors of our hospitals on a daily basis. Our hospitals must remain comforting and welcoming refuges for the sick and injured, yet there's a need to balance a welcoming environment with greater control of access to our facilities.
We believe that these changes are both necessary and important. We thank you for your understanding and support as we implement these security enhancements and ask also that you let us know how we can further improve our service to you.
BY JANET O'NEILL
Read other stories from the Fall 2009 Cottage Magazine here.