Eastern Health announced today more stringent visitor guidelines for the obstetrics unit located on 5 North B of the Health Sciences Centre.
As of May 3, increased security measures will mean the unit will be locked and visitor access will be permitted only by authorized staff in accordance with visiting policy. The policy allows for two visitors at any one time, between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., and between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
According to a news release, the additional measures are being put in place to increase the safety of newborns and to restrict the number of people visiting the unit.
These security measures at the Health Sciences Centre follow similar security measures implemented in the case room and the Neonatal and Pediatric Intensive Care Units at the Janeway Hospital site in past years and are in keeping with those implemented at hospitals across the country. They are being put in place to decrease the risk of abductions and keep newborns safe within the hospital.
''Although we have never experienced a newborn abduction from any of our facilities, it is essential that we do everything in our power to ensure an incident of this magnitude never happens to our children and their parents," said Carol Chafe, Eastern Health's Director of Children's and Women Health Program.
"The health and safety of babies is our priority, as is the peace of mind it will afford the mothers and fathers of the children in our care. We also want to manage the number of visitors at the unit for the benefit of the newborns and parents. While we know this is a special time for families, we need to make sure that babies and mothers have the appropriate amount of quiet time."
Other risk prevention strategies already in place include education of staff and parents regarding the "Baby Safe Program" which includes security and safety measures to protect the newborn.