A 2009 kidnapping incident at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital’s Mother Infant Unit now has the facility facing a $50,000 fine following a state oversight agency review of the unfortunate event.
Details of the 2009 Kidnapping:
Leanna Patricia Arzate took an infant from the mother’s room, while disguised as a nurse. Several hours later, the child was returned to his family, unharmed. Arzate was taken into custody and later sentenced to 11 years in prison.
“Of course we were relieved that, because of our existing security system and with the support of local law enforcement, we were able to recover the baby within hours and return it to its parents,” said Cottage Health System spokeswoman Janet O’Neill.
But the hospital realized there was still drastic room for improvement in regards to its security efforts.
Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital’s New Security Initiative:
At the time of the 2009 kidnapping, Cottage Hospital had no dedicated security guards on the floor, leaving the screening and monitoring of visitors to the nursing staff. Following the kidnapping incident, the hospital implemented several security improvements, including a permanent security greeter in the Mother Infant unit and mandatory badges for everyone that enters the unit.
Access to visitors was has since been restricted to just two entrances, with additional security personnel posted at these locations.
California’s Reaction to the 2009 Kidnapping:
Following the above-mentioned incident, the California Department of Public Health launched a statewide review, penalizing 14 total facilities (including Cottage Hospital) for noncompliance with licensing requirements that caused, or were likely to cause, serious injury or death to patients.
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