SARANAC LAKE - Adirondack Health will tighten security at its Saranac Lake hospital, effective Monday night.
Hospital officials said Friday that all entrances to Adirondack Medical Center-Saranac Lake and the Redfield Medical Office Building will be locked at the end of visiting hours at 9 p.m., except for the hospital's main lobby entrance.
From 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. each weekday and around the clock on weekends, the only way visitors will be able to get into the hospital will be through the main lobby. The doors that lead from the lobby to other parts of the hospital, including the emergency room and the Redfield building, will be locked. People who enter the building through the main lobby will have to sign in at the triage desk near the ER entrance before being allowed to enter the hospital's patient floors.
"They'll have to say who they are and who they are here to see," said Brian Waters, Adirondack Health's assistant vice president for facilities services. "We're just responding to really what nationally has been a growing trend in behavioral-related issues around hospital campuses. In the interest of keeping our patients and visitors safe, we're just looking to manage security a little differently on evenings and weekends."
"It's basically so a person can't just wander in off the street and go wherever they want to go throughout the hospital without checking in first," said Adirondack Health Communications Director Joe Riccio.
Visitors who are waiting in the main lobby and ICU waiting room on the weekends and during overnight hours will have access to restrooms and vending machines.
Asked why the change is being made now, hospital officials said it's the final step in a two-year effort to enhance security throughout AMC-Saranac Lake. Other departments at the hospital - including the obstetrics wing, the ER, the pharmacy and the operating room - have already seen enhanced safety and privacy measures.
Margaret Sorensen, Adirondack Health's chief nursing officer, said the changes will improve safety for patients and hospital staff. They could also help improve a patient's condition, she said.
"It's scientifically proven and there's a lot of literature that says silent hospitals help healing, rest, decreased noised; those sorts of things really help patients to recuperate more fully and quickly," Sorensen said. "We're also looking at improving somebody's stay."
"There's really been a strong tradition of a generous visiting policy (at the hospital) because we really have valued the importance of a family member, a friend or whoever to come spend time with a patient who is recovering," Riccio said. "We don't want to change that. We just want to be able to enhance what security and safety we have in place and still allow that relationship to continue."
Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or cknight@