Selecting an enterprise access control system is a critical decision for security directors. The financial investment, the operational impact and the long-term strategy can be of great benefit to the organization, but if not handled properly, it can also be catastrophic.
After hearing the news that our existing access control system would no longer be supported by the manufacturer as it reached its end-of-life, we had to make a change. This would begin the most innovative and expansive security systems integration project of my 32-year career at Navicent Health (formerly known as The Medical Center of Central Georgia or MCCG). The project required several months to complete and comprised approximately 500 doors, 500 cameras and a host of other integrations. We were successful thanks to our strong relationships with our service provider and manufacturers.
The Project Footprint
Navicent Health provides a broad range of community-based, outpatient diagnostic, primary care, extensive home health and hospice care, and comprehensive cancer and rehabilitation services.
Navicent Health also includes The Medical Center, Navicent Health, a designated Level I Trauma Center and one of 42 twice-designated Magnet hospitals for nursing excellence nationwide. Distinguished nationally for its excellence, The Medical Center, Navicent Health is one of the premier teaching hospitals in the United States and serves as the primary teaching hospital for the Mercer University School of Medicine. Navicent Health supports residency-training programs in family practice, general surgery, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology and pediatrics with more than 100 medical residents and fellows in training. As a teaching hospital, The Medical Center, Navicent Health is able to attract the best and the brightest to the area. Today, The Medical Center, Navicent Health is a 637-bed, full-service, acute care hospital that now serves an estimated population of 750,000 residents in central and south Georgia and is the second-largest hospital in the state. Accredited by Det Norske Veritas (DNV), the medical facility serves a primary service area of 30 counties and treats patients from nearly 80 percent of Georgia’s 159 counties.
The objective of Navicent Health’s Police Department is to provide a safe, secure and hospitable environment for its patients, staff and visitors. Selecting the right security systems, partnerships and integrations helps us to achieve our goals and accommodate the organization’s growth with an appropriately scaled use of manpower. The organization’s goals needed to align with our departmental goals, and they had to support one another technically, operationally and fiscally.
Collaboration and Identification of Organizational Challenges
Before we could start looking at new products and prices, we had to understand our needs. My long tenure at Navicent Health was an asset in this process as I could relate to the patrol officers, the mobile units, the dispatchers and the supervisors. I have been in every one of those positions at one time or another, so the concerns they had were understood and considered throughout the process. Similarly, it was important to engage the right administrative team members and leaders from other departments to understand their needs and challenges. Internal collaboration was the first step.
The team included members from nursing, the risk management team, the human resources department, the IT department and local law enforcement. Security considerations included:
- Unpredictable environment and activity in the Emergency Center;
- Infant and pediatric security;
- Pharmacy regulations;
- HIPAA requirements;
- Employee safety and security;
- Badging processes and management;
- Integration to video surveillance;
- Adequate integrations and configurations for dispatchers in the communications center;
- Maintaining high-integrity data and information for reporting; and
- Providing security, safety and support services.
As we engaged other departments, additional concerns were raised. The departmental leaders requested access to the video surveillance footage and offered suggestions for camera placement to provide them with enhanced visibility for operational purposes. The simplification of issuing a single badge for every employee to be used in multiple ways would eliminate a significant amount of time and overhead previously spent on managing multiple badge-types. Thorough communication and formalized security training programs were needed to provide employees with a better understanding of security protocols, why they were initiated and how to protect themselves and the facility throughout their workday.
Now that we had an inventory of what we needed to accomplish with the upgrade, it was time to incorporate our external partners to identify a solution.
Tech Systems Inc. has been our integrator for more than 20 years. Their FOCUS Service and Support program has created a significant return on investment throughout our relationship. Economic fluctuations, new regulations, the overall strategy for Navicent Health, and our required levels of support have required a flexible arrangement. Tech Systems has been providing a unique set of services and solutions for us to accommodate our immediate objectives and to support our long-term plans and goals.
As we discussed our situation with them, they identified some additional technical challenges for the deployment, including:
- Communication and data sharing with satellite locations;
- Centralized monitoring and dispatch from the new communication center;
- Customized integrations of independently operating systems; and
- Uniquely configured elevator controls and lockdown capabilities.
After a thorough analysis of Navicent Health’s security and safety needs, Tech Systems proposed a highly innovative solution which has proven to be an asset to our organization’s police department, other department leaders and the entire community of Navicent Health.
In my time here at Navicent Health, we went from having a few locked perimeter doors with metal keys, to a handful of electronic locks, to an access control system with analog video, to a true enterprise access control system with IP video surveillance integration.
We implemented the following in the upgrade:
- S2 Security’s S2 Enterprise access control system to control and monitor approximately 500 doors.
- Milestone Systems’ XProtect video management system to provide recording and retrieval of more than 500 analog and IP cameras.
- Stanley Healthcare Solution’s HUGS infant protection system.
- Code Blue’s emergency phones
- Integrated the S2 system into our Human Resources software.
- Integrated a Visitor Management system.
- Approximately 125 new IP cameras.
- Approximately 375 analog-to-IP video encoders.
- Exacq Technology’s exacqVision video recorders for satellite locations.
- New cards/badges for approximately 7,500 cardholders.
- A 12-monitor video wall for the communication center.
We incorporated each of the security considerations initially raised into the updated security system implementation and program.
Addressing the concerns of the Emergency Center, the S2 Lockdown and Threat Level Management features enable us to immediately react in the event of an active shooter, or otherwise dangerous incident or emergency.
Enhancing the security in the Family Birth Center, the HUGS infant protection system provides patient monitoring and is integrated so that live video of areas where alarms have been generated appears on a dedicated monitor in the communication center. It is also integrated to the S2 elevator controls to prevent unauthorized egress.
The added video surveillance and card-access systems for the pharmacy allow us to comply with the regulations for these areas. Specifically, unique identifiers are used via a keypad and access card dual-authentication process. The records storage areas are protected by card-access systems and only authorized personnel can access that area.
According to the FBI, the healthcare workforce is the number-one group of on-the-job victims in Type 2 violent crimes, defined as violence directed at employees by customers, clients, patients, students, inmates, or any others for whom an organization provides services. This statistic concerns the entire profession. In order to continue to attract elite doctors, nurses, teachers and other staff members, significant measures need to be taken to protect the employees.
Escorting staff members to the parking decks is one method used to prevent harm; however the practicality of escorting every employee is not feasible. The installation of the emergency phones was another way we could provide immediate support and response. Video surveillance in the parking areas allows for visibility to the area where these alarms are triggered so the mobile unit or other responding officers can be prepared.
To minimize costly duplication of data-entry processes, when the HR department updates its database, the S2 system will automatically create a record for new employees and deactivate access rights for terminated employees. The badges are also used for time and attendance, purchasing of meals in the cafeteria and access to parking.
To maximize the benefits of the video surveillance system, department leaders can now access video for optimizing their operational efficiencies. For example, to determine bed availability or the arrival of an ambulance.
Enhancing the capabilities of the dispatchers and officers, the user interface for the S2 system is intuitive, simple and provides all the information and functionality we need. Integrations to the other systems are so seamless we are able to operate the S2 system in a very efficient and effective manner. The web-based application greatly enhances our accessibility to the system and provides a level of logical access and cyber security functionality to mitigate risks of unauthorized access and changes.
Customized dashboards allow for appropriate visibility based on the authentication levels of each operator. Our system operators are able to remotely authenticate and permit access to satellite locations. Local video surveillance storage devices were installed at satellite locations where bandwidth restrictions would limit the quality of video transmitted to the main campus. This is integrated to the Milestone head-end so that the command center dispatchers and officers can remotely view live video and access recorded video from the main campus.
Tech Systems’ FOCUS Support Services guarantee our system is serviced within four hours and is fully-functional at the end of the technician’s initial visit. This is critical to our operations to maintain a safe, secure and code-compliant environment. Another important part of the FOCUS program is unlimited training, so we have taken advantage of that when new officers are hired, promoted or when we need a refresher course on how to optimize our use of the system. The deliverables and historic results of Tech Systems’ performance is what makes them a true partner to the Navicent Health organization.
Successful Partnerships Ensure Secure Environment
Merriam-Webster defines innovation as “a new idea, device or method” or “the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices or methods.” Our security program comprises integrations, technologies and operations that together are truly innovative.
It is not the technology, the police department or the security protocols that make Navicent Health a safe and secure environment. Working with partners that have integrity and deliver the functionality and flexibility required to accommodate a growing and evolving organization is the truly innovative aspect of this project. All too often security directors are forced to select a product or partnership based on price alone.
By partnering with the other departments at Navicent Health, we were able to provide solutions to their operational challenges while leveraging a portion of their budget to help fund the acquisition. By partnering with local law enforcement, we have a solid security program in place to respond to incidents and access the backup we need in a timely manner. By partnering with the right manufacturers, we are able to establish the functionality we required. By partnering with the right integrator, we knew the products would perform the way we expected and that the system would be designed, installed and serviced to meet our expectations.
By educating all of our staff on a regular basis on safety and security topics, by properly training our operators on the systems they operate and by establishing a set of security protocols, Navicent Health fosters an environment of situational awareness and safety.
My advice to those of you tasked with managing a security program is to show value to your organization. Get the employees involved. Understand and embrace your role on the leadership team. Support and manage the expectations of all stakeholders. Communicate regularly, share your ideas and take the time to listen to the concerns of others in your organization.
About the Author:
Quentin Jude is the Chief of Police for Navicent Health. He started in Law Enforcement as a Police Officer, at the Medical Center of Central Georgia Police Department in 1982; he worked his way through the ranks, and has been the Chief of Police since 1997. He currently serves on the Central Georgia Technical College Advisory Board for the Criminal Justice Program and on Central Georgia Regional Credit Union Board. In August 2014, he was appointed by Governor Nathan Deal to serve on a study committee for Violence Against Healthcare Workers.