CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – It’s an augmented reality game sweeping the nation and all around Franklin County there are signs of the growing popularity of Pokémon Go. The game accesses a smartphone’s GPS and camera to “search” for Pokémon characters, and features “Pokestops” where users collect items. The “Pokestops” are real life places, and can include parking lots, businesses, and even hospitals.
Some healthcare facilities across the country are banning Pokémon Go from their campuses after users have wandered into areas they shouldn’t, compromising patient privacy and safety. While Chambersburg Hospital officials see some health benefits for users, including increased physical activity, they say the game could potentially interrupt patient care and privacy, and are asking players to refrain from playing on any hospital or medical facility property.
“Our patients need rest, privacy, and in some cases protection from outside germs,” explained Jonathan Williams, director of safety and emergency preparedness for Chambersburg Hospital. “While we want to make it clear we cannot allow Pokémon Go players on our property, we also want to show our support for the game, which we believe, when done in safe areas, can encourage children to get more physical activity. This week we will have staff members stationed at an existing Pokestop to hand out free sunscreen and to encourage safe playing behavior.”
He said staff plans to encourage the use of sun protection and the importance of staying hydrated while playing in the heat, as well as to offer kind reminders about walking in or near traffic.