Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Lisa Sgarlata
Lisa Sgarlata

Want to visit a loved one at Lee Memorial Hospital? Starting next week you may have to get in line.

New security measures taking effect Monday at the downtown health center will require all visitors to present photo IDs, tell security personnel their reasons for visiting, submit to photographs and undergo quick criminal background checks.

This “Fast-Pass” system is similar to screenings already widely in use within Florida’s public schools and on cruise lines. Lee Memorial Health System, which operates the hospital, would not identify the specific offenses it would red-flag. But any questionable visitors would be escorted by a security officer while inside the building, said spokeswoman Mary Briggs.

Fast-Pass, developed by West Palm Beach-based Sisco, can check criminal, sex offender and internal watch lists, according to the company.

“We’re not trying to stop anyone from coming in,” Briggs said. “We just want to know who’s coming here and why.”

The screening process, which produces a stick-on security badge valid for 24 hours, takes about a minute to complete. Even so, hundreds of people visit the 355-bed facility daily, and its trauma center is the only one between Tampa and Miami.

A retractable belt stanchion — those line-control devices common at airports and other public buildings — has already been installed in the lobby, though it is not yet in use.

Lisa Sgarlata, chief administrative officer for the hospital, conceded that waits may be a problem at first.

“The Fast-Pass system is easy to use and produces the badge in seconds, but we expect there may be some temporary delays in entering the hospital when we first get used to the new process,” she said in a prepared comment. “We apologize for any inconvenience this causes and appreciate everyone’s cooperation and understanding.”

Health system officials said this month said they were reviewing security at all of its medical center campuses and preparing staff better scrutinize visitors.

Purchasing the three $6,300 devices and hiring six security officers for the hospital is their first such move.

(Page 2 of 2)

Lee Memorial Hospital was a logical choice the heavy visitor traffic it receives, particularly to its trauma center. The center often treats victims of violent crime. In May 2011, it was subject to a brief lock down when staff became concerned rival gang members might seek retaliation for a shooting that injured two children.

Metal detectors, a security option at a minority of U.S. hospitals, are not being considered, she said.

Lee Memorial Hospital has three public entrances: The main door to its front lobby, the front door to a medical office attached to the hospital and the hospital’s emergency department.

Front desk volunteers and staff have been preparing for the new system in recent weeks. They expect some annoyed visitors.

“I’m feeling they will be at first,” said Linda Cloutier, a guest services representative at the hospital. But she said snowbirds and tourists from northern states, where such measures are more common, may be more forgiving. “Quite of a few of them come in this time of year,” she said. “They’re used to it.”

The health system plans similar security upgrades at Gulf Coast Medical Center soon, Briggs said. Officials have not yet decided when such measures might come to Cape Coral Hospital, HealthPark Medical Center and its other medical facilities, she said.

NCH Healthcare System, the largest hospital system in Collier County, uses Fast-Pass and similar systems to screen visitors and vendors on their campuses, according to John Griffith, the organization’s security director.

A security officer is also posted in the ER at night, Griffith said.

“The safety of our visitors, patients and staff is always our priority and we continue to work closely with the Naples Police Department and Collier County Sheriff’s Office to provide a safe environment,” he said in an email to the News-Press.

Physicians Regional Healthcare System, one of whose hospitals was the site of a fatal shooting in 2011, has an “extensive video surveillance system,” security officers on site at all times and conducts background checks on all employees, said spokeswoman Taylor Hamilton.

Connect with this reporter: @FrankGluck (Twitter)

More In Crime & Courts

Local Deals

Flip, shop and save on specials from your favorite retailers on Marco Island

GET DEALS NOW

Marco beach cam

RESTAURANTS

Find local restaurants, read
and submit reviews

Celebrating the best of South Lee and North Naples

READ MORE

Reader Photos

Get the Hurricane Hub app

DealChicken.com

Sign up to save 50-90% off SWFL dining, shopping, spas, activities and more. Every day.