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GLENS FALLS — Visitors to Glens Falls Hospital were surprised to be asked for ID on Wednesday. Most did not object to the new security procedure, but wondered how it would make patients safer.

Over the next month, the hospital is rolling out visitor stickers with the visitor’s photo and where they are headed. The hospital is also securing most doors, limiting entrance to three locations and the Emergency Department.

To get in, visitors now must show ID or give their name at the main entrance, called the Tower Entrance. The same rules will soon apply to the West Entrance and the Pruyn Pavilion entrance.

Visitors took the new rules in stride Wednesday morning, the first day of the new system.

“It wasn’t a big deal at all. Everything went very smoothly,” said visitor Joan Nassivera of Hudson Falls.

It took security about a minute to scan visitors’ photo ID and print out a visitor sticker.

Nassivera, who works for a security alarm company, said she didn’t see any real value in the sticker system. But, she said, it was a good start.

“It may not be the answer, but it’s a step in the right direction,” she said.

Another visitor, Peggy Falkenbury of Gansevoort, strolled in without getting a sticker.

“I didn’t see anybody,” she said, laughing at her accidental skirting of security.

She added that she supports the idea, although she thinks it is probably pointless.

“Anybody can have an ID,” she said.

Likewise, visitor Cary Thew, who was visiting a terminally ill friend, said the system was only the start of better security.

“It’s the beginning. They’re not checking you all over. You could get a demented person here with a handgun and an ID,” he said.

But he wants the hospital to become more secure.

“I’d feel more comfortable,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a bad idea, but I do think it’s going to cause a lot of tension with people wanting to visit a loved one who is sick, not get out their license and wait a minute.”

Security officer Chris Van Zandt was doing his best to alleviate that tension. He gently intercepted visitors all morning, explaining that he had to give them a visitor’s pass and would direct them to their loved one quickly.

For those who had no ID, he took anything. He scanned in an expired Air Force card and an expired veterans benefits card. For those who had nothing at all, he typed in their name and took their photo.

“We’re not sitting here turning away visitors,” he said.

The ink on the visitor stickers fades after 24 hours and the word VOID appears. When that happens, hospital staff are supposed to direct the visitor back to an entrance to get a new pass.

That, theoretically, will prevent people from wandering the halls with no reason to be in the hospital.

Hospital officials said they have had no security problems but want to beef up security anyway to make patients safer.

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You can reach Kathleen Moore at 742-3247 or kmoore@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @ByKathleenMoore or at her blog on www.poststar.com.

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reporter - Health care, Moreau, Queensbury, South Glens Falls

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