Elcie Vixama and Joan Zagame

When Joan Zagame, RN, and Elcie Vixama, BSN, RN, noticed a suspicious-looking person on the Mother/Baby Unit, their instincts immediately kicked in. The woman was not wearing a Brigham badge or visitor sticker, and she looked away when the nurses questioned her presence on the unit.

Fortunately, the situation was part of a drill run by Brigham Police and Security, and the suspicious woman was a staff member playing the part. But had it been a real-life situation, the nurses did exactly the right thing, said Larry Nialetz, deputy chief of Field Services and Exterior Operations.

“We were hoping for the sharp eyes and attention to detail that both nurses displayed,” he said. “Had this been a real-life situation, their quick response would have been critical to the safety of our patients.”

Nialetz noted that if the nurses had not been comfortable approaching the person, the next appropriate action would be to alert Security by calling ext. 2-6565 and providing details about her appearance and location.

Drills like this one are part of the numerous safety and security measures in place to protect mothers and infants at the Brigham.

“While badge access is required for all staff, and visitors must check in with Security, it’s always important for staff to be aware of their surroundings and notice anyone who doesn’t appear to belong on our infant floors,” Nialetz said. “If all staff are alert, we have an even safer, more secure environment for everyone who comes through our doors.”

At the conclusion of the drills, Security leaders and staff debrief to discuss what went well and any opportunities for improvement. “We also talk about whether the response of staff members warrants recognition,” said Nialetz.

In this case, it was clear that Zagame and Vixama should be honored for their swift actions. “Their exemplary performance was a credit to themselves and to the nursing team on the unit,” Nialetz said. “We thank them for being alert and responding quickly when something didn’t seem right.”

Nialetz met with Zagame and Vixama recently and presented them with pink pins at a brief ceremony on the unit. Pink pins earned their name years ago when emergency codes were named by color, and Code Pink represented infant security situations.