Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Remember 9-11-01

Hawaii’s hospitals
tighten security measures

Medical officials warn visitors
to expect appointment delays

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

Kaiser Permanente and Kuakini Medical Center are clamping down on evening access to their facilities.

Patrols have been stepped up at Straub Clinic and Hospital and Kapiolani health facilities.

And Queen's Medical Center, on heightened lookout for suspicious cars, may start searching bags.

Across the state, medical facilities are changing security standards in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and recent anthrax scares.

The Healthcare Association of Hawaii yesterday issued a news release warning patients and visitors of hospitals, hospices and other medical facilities to anticipate inconveniences, such as delays in appointments, because of increased security.

Richard Meiers, president of the association, said there is no reason to believe that Hawaii hospitals have a high potential for terrorist or anthrax attacks.

"We do not expect any problems, there are no perceived or expected threats out there," Meiers said. "But we didn't expect them to do what they did in New York City and Washington, D.C. either."

Meiers said Hawaii's remote location also makes it important for local health facilities to take extra precautions.

The association represents all of Hawaii's hospitals as well as long-term care, home care and hospice providers.

At Queen's, Hawaii's largest trauma center, security personnel are stepping up enforcement of its longtime policy of barring unauthorized vehicles from parking next to hospital buildings, according to Gary Dias, manager of security.

"There may be some searches of people who are coming onto campus," Dias said, noting that the policy will apply to bags whose contents cannot be seen.

Additionally, "we have some ancillary doors that we are considering closing," he said. The Queen's emergency room already has a metal detector at its entranceway.

At Kaiser's Moanalua facility, where some public entranceways have been closed, other entrances will be "electronically protected" and/or staffed at night by security officers who will look at bags and boxes being brought into the hospital, assistant hospital administrator Toby Clairmont said.

Kevin Matsukado, safety and security supervisor for Straub Clinic and Hospital, said patrols in parking and loading areas as well as the emergency rooms of its King Street facility have increased.

"What they're looking for is any type of suspicious individuals loitering in their cars or coming into our facilities with bags, packages and things like that," Matsukado said.

Kuakini spokeswoman Donda Spiker said night security measures have been tightened and those entering the medical center after hours need to do so through the emergency room.

Access to the campus' long-term care building has also been limited to one entrance at night, she said.

Similar measures have been taken at Kapiolani Health and St. Francis Health Care System, administrators said.Clairmont, who also is chairman of the emergency management committee for the Healthcare Association, said Hawaii hospitals have worked together on enhancing security measures.

"We don't see hospitals as individual organizations when we have emergencies," he said.

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