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Frustrations, tensions rise over hospital visitor screening policy

Hospital screening

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo (KRDO) - Penrose-St. Francis health system staff says they've had to call security several times over the past few months because of irate visitors unhappy with the hospital's visitor screening procedures put in place due to COVID.

Penrose Hospital sees about 2,500 patients and visitors a day, Penrose St. Francis says a couple hundred. Since COVID-19 began, staff says they've been yelled at to the point where security has had to intervene.

When you visit Penrose-St. Francis hospitals these days — whether as a patient, family member or friend — you'll be greeted with signs and arrows pointing you toward the new screening process.

They ask if you've had a fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle aches, loss of taste or smell within the last 72 hours. Next, your temperature is taken through an infrared camera.

"That actually reads your temperature from far away so it makes it a lot faster, a lot safer process as far as nothing to clean in between visitors and people screening," said Roni Farrenberg, Director of Clinical Services for Nursing.

Although it's a quicker procedure, she says tensions have been high.

"There are times that our line goes out the building, around the corner and onto the sidewalk. It is a fast process, but still frustrating," Farrenberg said.

Since this process was put in place, Dr. Bill Plauth, hospital medical director, says outbursts from visitors have turned violent.

"People do get upset. We've even had people curse at our staff and we just ask people not to. We understand coming to the hospital is a very stressful environment especially when they're concerned about a loved one," he said.

In response, both hospitals has introduced other safety measures.

"We do not tolerate violence towards our associates. Unfortunately, there have been circumstances where security has been involved and we have had to ask some visitors to leave," Farrenberg said.

Turning visitors away is not something the hospital wants to do, but administrators say they won't hesitate to do that if the hospital has to.

While the hospitals don't know how many times security has had to get involved, they say one time is too many.

Colorado Springs / Health / News

Alexis Dominguez

Alexis is a reporter for KRDO and Telemundo Surco. Learn more about Alexis here.



    1. The lines are slow enough that you get to cool off inside for a bit before they take your temp.

  1. If you are going to a hospital and get upset because they are doing their best to keep patients and visitors safe then as Arnold said you are an absolute moron.

  2. People are too impatient. Just chill. These people are just doing their jobs. Patients and hospital workers should be protected against patients with appointments/visitors bringing in COVID germs.

  3. Very simple way – if you don’t want to follow their rules, DON’T GO. See how easy that is. Stay home and shut up. Or open your own hospital and make your own rules. Now we can see why some kids grow up whinny little cry babies. Because their parents are whinny little cry babies.

  4. You don’t want to get screened then don’t go to the hospital that simple. Seems minimally-invasive I don’t know what these people’s problem was.

  5. So entitled. Do these people ever stop to consider that the procedures in place protect the very people they are coming to visit? Imagine if there were no screenings and someone who had corona came in and infected already sick or injured people? Not only would the patient’s circumstance become more dire, they’d probably stop visitation altogether.

  6. What is wrong with you ppl? You’re visiting a hospital!! You know, the big building with a lot of such ppl? Probably including the person you’re visiting! And you want to complain about, even fight the ppl keeping them safe? Seriously, if tired not patient enough to make sure loved ones in the hospital are protected, stay home. FaceTime them. Why are the thugs now?

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