Security measures in place to protect newborns from kidnapping

Almost 30 years ago — similar to the terrifying situation this week in Quebec — a baby was stolen from the hospital maternity ward in Red Deer.

Almost 30 years ago — similar to the terrifying situation this week in Quebec — a baby was stolen from the hospital maternity ward in Red Deer.

Today, security measures to protect newborn babies from being kidnapped from the Red Deer Regional Hospital include photo identification for authorized staff and arm bands for the mother and her partner.

Alberta Health Services provided security details following the kidnapping of the newborn from the Trois-Rivieres, Que., hospital on Monday.

The incident made headlines across the country after the day-old infant was snatched by a woman posing as a nurse. An amber alert issued by police that went viral on social media helped to track down the baby unharmed within three hours.

In Red Deer, only authorized staff and the partner, or significant support person, may remove an infant from the mother’s presence and every infant wears an arm band that matches the one issued to the mother.

The arm band must be displayed and the individual identified to the satisfaction of the nursing staff prior to releasing the baby and whenever the mother and baby are separated.

Authorized personnel transport newborns in the bassinet or crib at all times.

Security cameras also monitor the unit’s entrance/exit and authorized personnel may request identification at any time.

Michael Dawe, a longtime member of the former Red Deer Regional Hospital board, clearly remembered when a baby was kidnapped from the Red Deer hospital in 1985.

“It was a tremendous wake-up call. It was at a time, in the ‘80s, when you didn’t hear a lot about things like that. We didn’t think it would happen in a place like Red Deer. But we really improved security afterwards,” Dawe said on Wednesday.

“I just can’t imagine the terror the mother felt.”

He said the woman who took the baby was found about 15 minutes later in the hospital. The baby was missing for about half an hour before it was found unharmed in a duffle bag hanging on a hook behind a bathroom door in the lower level of the hospital.

Lois Marie Petrishen, of Saskatoon, who was 28 at the time, later pleaded guilty and received a jail sentence of two years less a day and two years probation.

Dawe said Petrishen went into the mother’s hospital room to check on the baby and so the mother decided to use the pay phone in the hallway.

“Just as she started going down (the hall) she had a funny feeling about things, so she went back in the room and found both the woman and the baby were gone.”

During her sentencing hearing, Petrishen was said to have been masquerading as a visiting doctor and mingled freely with mothers on the maternity ward, wearing a blond wig, nurse’s uniform and doctor’s smock.

She decided to kidnap a baby after learning she likely wasn’t able to bear children.

Dawe said she made it to the basement parkade with the baby before realizing she forgot her keys and had to go back inside the hospital.

“My goodness, if she had taken off with that child. It was a real close call.”

He said security measures where enhanced to require identification badges with photos for staff and both visitors and staff checked more closely.

“In those days (the hospital) was quite quick to let the press know exactly what happened. They didn’t want a lot of scary stories and false rumours out there. They wanted people to know it was an isolated incident.”

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Sylvan Lake council approves concept plan for new park

Pogadl Park will eventally be home to numerous ball diamonds and sports fields

One person dead after collision on Highway 2A

Pickup truck and grain truck collided on Highway 2A south of Carstairs

Updated: Trial stalls for man accused in fatal Canada Day 2016 crash

Defence lawyer argued relevant information received only hours before trial to begin

Sylvan Lake council passes 2019 budget

Tax rate increase of 2.74 per cent set for this year

Relief for drivers in construction zones

Motorists in favour of change

WATCH:2019 Canada Winter Games torchbearers announced

Sixteen torchbearers announced with others to be revealed during Opening Ceremonies

B.C. boy, aunt missing for three days

The pair are missing from Kamloops

Liberal bows out of byelection after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

Shooter pleads guilty to manslaughter in Stettler

A Stettler man charged with second-degree murder has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.… Continue reading

Kentucky canoe outfit borrows photo of Trudeau family to market business

They are in a red canoe, all clad in life jackets, and Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and Ella-Grace are waving

Police chief confirms all three Ottawa bus victims were on board when it crashed

OTTAWA — All three people killed in last week’s deadly bus accident… Continue reading

Theresa May wins no-confidence vote after Brexit deal rejection

UK PM can keep her job, after House of Commons voted 325-306

Alberta doctor accused of sexual assault asked to voluntarily give up practice

College says Dr. Barry Wollach should discontinue his practice, given the seriousness of the allegation against him

Speedy acceptance of Saudi shows refugee system’s flaws

Who would not wish Rahaf Mohammed well? The 18-year-old Saudi wants to… Continue reading

Most Read