High Security

I understand the need for security in many important places -- like airports, court rooms, and banks. I might even understand if you wanted to put security around a really good donught shop, because we've got to protect our country's most important assets. But one place I had never really considered to be all that high of a security need is a hospital.

After all, who wants to steal a sick person? Or hurt one...I mean, what's the point...they are already in the hospital. I understand protecting the baby unit, but the rest of the hospital I think is pretty much fine with a Wal-Mart greeter at the front door.

And I never had experienced all that much security at a hospital until a recent trip to visit my brother, who was pretenting to be sick (it is amazing the attention you can get if you tell people in an emergency room that your heart is doing strange things...you better mean it if you say it, because they are not letting you go until they put you through all kinds of tests).

I wasn't that surprised when we were asked to sign in at the security desk...that seemed fair enough. But it didn't stop there. They called the room we were going to visit to tell them we were coming. Next they wanted to see a photo ID to verify identity. My mother, who was with us, didn't have her ID with her, so she had to fill out a lengthy identify verification form. It was quite a process. After that, they took a digitial picture of each of us and printed it out on a temporary ID badge that they asked us to wear at all times. At this point, I was a little bit annoyed. We were going to visit my brother, who wasn't really even sick, and they were acting like we were getting clearance to visit the President.

But just when I was feeling sorry for myself, I noticed a guy nearby that had it worse than we did. He was leaning over a table, wearing a hospital gown, going through some sort of inspection that was much more thorough than ours. I didn't know whether to be nervous that we weren't done with the security screening and would be next in line, or whether to be relieved that we apparently got the expedited version. We put on our badges and hurried past, and no one ever stopped us, so I guess that guy just got the short end of the stick (or whatever the case may be).

The whole experience made me think though...if we could just hire the hospital people to be in charge of keeping us secure, we might be in good hands. You wouldn't have to worry whether your children were safe at school, because the hospital security people would have it covered (although checking in and out each day may take hours). You could shop at the grocery store without concern that someone was going to break in, without signing in, and cause all kinds of violence. There would be no weirdos at the library anymore, because security would screen them out. And there would be no concern that your jelly doughnut would be taken by prior customers--security would have it sitting there waiting for you, locked in an airtight container.

I guess the only drawback would be where to get all the money to pay for this kind of security. There isn't that kind of money in schools, grocery stores, libraries or doughnut shops.

Maybe that should tell us something about hospitals and hospital bills.

But at least all the sick and wounded can sleep well tonight, knowing no one is going to break in an steal them.