The Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital is facing a $50,000 fine after a state oversight agency reviewed the circumstances surrounding an infant kidnapping from the hospital’s Mother Infant Unit in 2009.
Police arrested Leanna Patricia Arzate in February 2009 after she took an infant from the mother’s room while dressed as a nurse. The baby boy was unharmed and returned to his family several hours after being taken from the hospital, says a Noozhawk.com report.
At the time of the kidnapping, there were no dedicated security guards on the floor, and nurses were responsible for screening and monitoring visitors to the unit, the report says. Since then, a security greeter was permanently posted to the hospital’s Mother Infant Unit, and the hospital has implemented a badge process for individuals entering the MIU, the report said.
Access to the hospital was also limited to visitors with two entrances, and security greeters were placed in the front lobby to identify each visitor and find out the reason for his or her visit.
Both mother and child had been wearing a security bracelet that would sound if the baby left the MIU, the report said, but the child’s bracelet had been removed from his ankle and not triggered, leaving Arzate able to smuggle the baby out in a large purse.
After the incident, Cottage Hospital implemented a series of security improvements, including mandatory badges for everyone who enters its hospitals in Santa Barbara, Goleta and Santa Ynez.