York Hospital implemented new emergency room rules Wednesday, and reaction from the community ranged from approval to disappointment and just about everything in between.
Under the new policy, emergency room visitors are required to present a form of identification to obtain a visitors' badge.
Even then, visitors will only be taken to a patient's bedside after the hospital's primary care team has seen the patient.
Emergency department patients are allowed only two visitors at a time under the new policy, and children under age 12 are not allowed to enter the emergency department treatment area as visitors.
The hospital said the changes are being made to better manage visitor traffic and keep track of who is in the emergency room for safety purposes.
Nina Tarbert, 60, of York Township said she thinks limiting the number of visitors per patient to just two makes sense.
"I think they should keep it at a minimum," said Tarbert. "I've seen rooms packed with a bunch of people praying and that's acceptable, but otherwise patients are in there for rest and that is what they need."
Tarbert also said requiring visitors to present identification is a positive change because of the rise in identity theft and insurance fraud.
The other side: However, others pointed out that presenting identification during an emergency might not go so smoothly.
"If it's an emergency, you're only thinking about that problem," said Holly Wilson. "In emergencies you're never thinking straight."
Wilson, 28, of Springettsbury Township has two young children and said not allowing children to accompany a family member into the emergency department could be problematic.
"If I were to go in with an emergency, I wouldn't be able to find someone to watch them right away," said Wilson. "It's kind of ridiculous if your kids have to stay away from you, and you're the only one to take care of them."
When Wilson's sister was going into labor and delivery at another hospital that required visitors to present identification, Wilson said she almost missed the birth of her nephew because of how long the process took.
Asking for identification is a good idea, said Bob Jackson, but the policy against having children in the emergency department treatment area as visitors and capping the amount of visitors at two is a bit too much.
"What if you have your kids with you and you're a family of four?" said Jackson, 52, of Dover Township. "I can see not wanting to crowd the room, but really?"
Emily Schwartz, 24, of Springettsbury Township said the new policy is good for security reasons, but sounds a lot like going through security at the airport -- "a necessary evil."
"It's just one of those policies that people are going to have to get used to," said Schwartz. "But it's for the better."
At the hospital: The new visitors policy went into effect with the opening of the renovated emergency department triage and seating area. In the past there was no set visitors policy or limit to the number of visitors, said Barry Sparks, spokesman for WellSpan.
As of Thursday, the York Hospital Emergency Department had not experienced as much criticism as anticipated over the policy change, said Cheryl Wintermyer, spokeswoman for WellSpan.
One additional 24-7 security officer was added as the policy went into effect, and the security officers are in charge of checking the identification presented by visitors, Wintermyer said.
-- Reach Chelsea Shank at email@example.com.