Kurt was at Resurrection Medical Center in Chicago yesterday, where his father is in rehab after a recent stroke, and he was nearly kicked out because he took a photo of the setting sun out the window from a hallway.
Before even reviewing the picture, I heard a woman yell, “What do you think you’re doing?!” I looked up, seeing an angry looking woman briskly coming down the hall at me.
“Taking a photo of the sun,” I replied.
“You’re in a hospital!” she shrilly declared.
“I’ve called security, you stay here!”
Kurt didn’t stay there, but told her his father had been there for 3 weeks now and he was going to go join him at dinner.
And so I did. I joined my father at dinner. Within minutes, someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was a security guard.
“Sir, can you come with me?”
“Were you taking photos in the hospital?” he asked, seemingly bored.
“Yes, I took a photo out the hallway window in the 3rd floor of the sun.” I showed him the photo.
“Okay, just don’t do it again. Thanks.” It seemed like he was just a guy doing his job so I agreed and went back to sit with my father.
“See, they’re all pinheads,” commented my father.
But that wasn’t the end of it—a hospital official joined them before the dinner was over and “explained” the problem:
He exasperatedly explained to me that I could not take photos anywhere on the hospital grounds because it violated the employees’ rights. I was also told that I was not allowed anywhere but with my father. Failure to comply with these requests would result in being escorted by the still present security guard. At this point, he also demanded my driver’s license as proof of the incident.
Okay, so let’s look at some possible reasons to ban photographs at a hospital:
- to protect the privacy of employees;
- to protect the privacy of patients;
- to prevent situations where someone taking pictures may get in the way of helping the sick and injured;
It seems reasonable that those three needs can be met with a sign posted at every entrance that says something like, “Please do not take photographs of employees or patients. No cameras allowed in hallways or treatment areas.” Hey, and then you could also tell employees to memorize and repeat those two restrictions one time only to offenders, along with “Hospital policy!” at the end. If they spy a repeat offender, they call security. Another problem solved! You’re welcome!
In other words: We get that the hospital wants to protect the privacy of employees and patients, but obviously a simple explanation of the no-photos policy would have sufficed. Bringing two employees to twice interrupt a visitor’s dinner with his father is the kind of overreaction that happens when you equate photographs with terrorism, and cameras with guns.
I wanted to point out that I didn’t take a picture of any person, or that I couldn’t possibly know their absurd policy since there was no signage posted anywhere. And if a search of their site is any indication, the only person who is aware of this policy is the the head of security himself.
But he didn’t say anything, because his father is there in rehab and he didn’t want to get kicked out.
We tried contacting Resurrection to find out what their official photo policy was, but we were transferred from the front desk to security, then given a number to guest relations that didn’t work. (The security guy said it was probably closed for the evening.) Nobody we actually spoke with was willing to say anything about a photo policy for visitors.
This writer thinks there’s another reason for all the photo banning currently in vogue: it’s a superstitious attempt to retroactively prevent 9/11 from ever having happened. Letting a stranger shoot a photo has become a symbol of invasion and assault, of scheming and revenge. Or maybe it’s also a fear of Flickr. At any rate, this writer half-seriously suggests maybe earmarking some public funds for a national re-education campaign about the moral neutrality of “Taking Photos.”
“Hospital forbids photos of the sun!” [fiftytwofifty]