By Carol Salter—I work in a hospital. I love the healthcare atmosphere and the wonderful care I see given to patients every day. Occasionally, I get a call to go to a patient’s room to notarize a document. Yesterday was just such a day and away I went with my rolling National Notary Association “office on wheels.” As is the practice with all our employees, I knocked on the patient’s door, went in and introduced myself to the patient.

The patient was a delightful gentleman from the South who was very eager that the notarization be performed correctly. And who would blame him. He had just sold his house “down South” and needed several of the ensuing documents to be notarized. Since he was in the hospital, he had no other alternative but to rely on whom the staff had called.

It was a long process and required many signatures involving acknowledgements and administered oaths. It was not an easy task since the signer had an IV in one arm and was hooked up to various machines. However, with time and patience, the process was soon complete.

When a notary is called into a healthcare setting, it is imperative that they determine willingness and awareness. There are times when a patient has been given medication that would render them incapable of being aware of what they are signing. The family may be pushing to have a document signed, but remember, the notary is the first line of defense for detecting and deterring fraud. If the patient does not understand what they are signing, do not notarize the document. Remember: always document the reasons for not performing the notarization in your journal.

There are times when various issues may arise in the healthcare setting. The signer may not have identification. A stroke may have left the signer with a signature that does not exactly look like their original signature. The notary needs to take care that special accommodations may be made, yet ensure that the notarization is correctly done and that every thing is in proper order. When a signer is in a vulnerable position, the notary needs to be vigilant, ethical, understanding and compassionate.

At the end of my notarization yesterday, the patient was grateful to have this kind of service performed in the hospital. I told him I was happy to be of assistance and asked that he wished me luck in the selling of my house. Yes, it is still on the market. Colorado is in the top 10 states for foreclosures. It is a buyer’s market here, but that is a topic for another article.