Security measures at one hospital in the Capital City are being questioned.
Kathy Davison was going back and forth to Sanford Health in Bismarck every day after her husband was hospitalized for a week.
And every day security would ask her for a personal item to hold onto while she visited him.
“Because I want to see him very much, I will give them whatever they want. And I did so I could see him. By about the fifth time I went through this, I’m a little less afraid and a lot more angry,” explained Davison.
That’s when she sat back and thought about people who aren’t as privileged to have those items.
What can they do if they want to see their loved one?
“There is a correlation between being poor and being a minority in North Dakota and this policy of Sanford’s discriminates against the poor and minorities. And it’s not even fair for everyone, but the burden falls hardest on those groups,” shared Davison.
When a visitor walks into the main entrance they are greeted by security who asks if they are a visitor or a patient.
If you are a visitor, you are asked to leave a personal item at the security desk like your car keys, ID or your cell phone.
“The personal item thing came into effect mainly just because when you get that badge to be able to visit our facility is that you come back and return it. We know that you’re inside our facility and now our nurses don’t necessarily have to keep track of the number of patients in the room. We actually have security downstairs,” said Fred Fridley, the VP of Operations for Sanford Health Bismarck.
Sandford Health officials say the current visitor policy went into place into effect last fall when COVID-19 hospitalizations were at their peak.
“If you aren’t comfortable handing anything over or if you don’t have anything, we will still find a way to get you into the facility. You might be escorted by security up there. You might be tracked via just by the number of patients that are in the room at a particular time by our nursing staff and our nursing stations will get notified,” explained Fridley.
As for CHI St. Alexius and its facilities, they have returned to pre-pandemic security measures.
“We utilized a system where we would track that there was a visitor to a specific number in an effort to try to ensure that we didn’t have any HIPAA violations at our front entrance,” explained Raumi Kudrna, the VP of patient care services at CHI St. Alexius.
Sanford says there is security at all times watching the items people leave behind.
Sanford Health’s visitor policy on their website does not state people must turn in a personal item for a badge, but does states some facilities may have a slightly different policy.