Grieving family: security guards prevented them saying goodbye to dying relative

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NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (PIX 11)– John Urbaniak is convinced he and his mother lost precious minutes on the night of November 23rd when for roughly ten minutes they said they were harassed and prevented from saying goodbye to 93 year old Angelo Romeo, thanks to security guards at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.

“You dont ever expect when your father or your mother dies.  you don’t take it very lightly. especially when you’ve been taking care of them for so long,” said Frances Urbaniak.

Romeo, Frances’ father and John’s grandfather,  was in a simple procedure and yet after just two and a half days in the hospital, he took a turn for the worse.

“He waved bye- bye to me and left and we went to grab something to eat. We didn’t’ even have enough time to sit down when we get the call,” said Frances.

John and Frances said they rushed to the hospital through this very same entrance they had used for days and a guard buzzed them in, they made it to the elevator,but were almost immediately stopped by another guard.

The doors started to close and she ran over and she stopped the elevator door from closing with her hands and with her legs and told me to get out,” said John.

Worried of wasting valuable minutes,  the Urbaniak’s rushed through to the hospital’s main lobby where they were directed, only to be stopped yet again.

“All of a sudden you see all these guards waiting for us at the elevator and detaining us even more,” said Frances.

As crucial minutes ticked by, the Urbaniak’s said they were lectured about hospital procedures and when they were eventually escorted to the Critical Care Unit on the 3rd floor,  it was too late.

“I turned to the head security guard and I said to him that you took away the last couple of minutes I could have had with my grandfather. You took away the last moment I could have had to say goodbye to him and say I love him. His response was this is your fault. You didn’t’ follow the rules,” said John.

In a statement to PIX11,  Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital said the following:

“First, we extend our deepest sympathies to the Romeo and Urbaniak families at this time. We strive to provide a welcoming and safe environment for all patients and visitors at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and take the families’ concerns very seriously.  Any time a family expresses a concern like this, it is a high priority for RWJ. We have reached out to Mr. Urbaniak and have asked him to contact us so we can address his concerns. We look forward to speaking with him.”

Based on our initial review, we have determined that while Mr. Urbaniak and his mother were re-directed from the Emergency Department entrance to the hospital’s main lobby entrance where visitors must check-in to access the Critical Cardiac Care Unit for security reasons, the family was not detained. Our security personnel took this action in the spirit of maintaining a safe and secure environment for all patients and visitors.

After speaking with the family and following the completion of this exhaustive review, we will determine if changes should be made to our security practices, or if enhanced training is needed for staff.

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