Making Security’s Partnership with Healthcare Seamless

June 17, 2019
The evolving role of security creates an opportunity to leverage the expanded roles in other disciplines

Ensuring the health and safety of patients, visitors and staff is vital to healthcare organizations. So how can a healthcare organization implement an impactful security program?

In today’s environment, many security directors and security and facility managers are called upon to reevaluate their security programs and, in many cases, increase security and safety measures. After an assessment of their security program, security directors and facility managers often find their current security program cannot provide for the additional requirements needed.  

Excela Health, located in Greenburg, Pennsylvania has three acute care hospitals that serve Westmoreland, southern Indiana and northern Fayette counties.  Excela Health’s mission of “improving the health and well-being of every life” they touch is spread across the thousands of doctors, health professionals and administrative staff who are the life’s blood of the health system.  These services include emergency departments, trauma and behavioral health.

A few years ago, Excela Health was researching a change in security providers.  Michael Rosensteel, system manager of emergency management services and security at Excela Health, determined that the hospital system needed to enhance their security program to ensure all hospitals were receiving an appropriate level of security.

After completing his research on top security companies, Rosensteel decided to tour one of our client sites. Our goal was to showcase our best practices and recommend top security protocols to be implemented at Excela Health. 

“When I did the tour of another Allied Universal healthcare client site, I was impressed with the account manager model they had in place,” said Rosensteel.  “It became apparent that we needed to implement a dedicated manager on site at the Excela Health security program who would be able to help steer the program in the direction needed and respond to the three facilities.”

Transitioning Your Security Provider

Allied Universal was selected as Excela Health’s new provider with more than 2,000 hours per week/40 FTE’s of security services.  However, the incumbent provider’s contract was ending two weeks after the Allied Universal contract was finalized and the health system needed to ensure a quick, but smooth transition of security services and personnel.

“We did not want any area of the hospital exposed to potential security threats or for anyone to even notice the transition of security providers,” said Rosensteel.  “It was important that when the incumbent’s contract ended at midnight on Saturday that Allied Universal had a transparent transition and was able to begin at 12:01 a.m. without hesitation on their part.”

“Allied Universal had to ensure that any new security professionals met hospital vaccination and training requirements and were acclimated to our health system,” said Rosensteel. “New employees would need to be trained and become familiar with our culture in a short window of time prior to their start date.”

Our local team went to work immediately to staff and prepare for the security program at Excela Health.  We worked closely with representatives from Excela Health to develop a transition plan and security program that would meet the health system’s needs which included enhanced training for personnel and implementing the critical on-site management role that would be responsible for leading the program.

For three consecutive days, the team interviewed, screened and hired security professionals for the hospital. 

“We tapped into our local resources to help bring in the right talent,” said Kenneth Bukowski, vice president, vertical markets, Allied Universal.  “We also had the perfect candidate for the dedicated manager position and brought him on board immediately.”

Our team was able to execute a seamless transition of Excela Health’s around-the-clock security program in two weeks. 

“Allied Universal made sure each individual received additional training and met the hospital’s requirements on top of what Allied Universal requires of each security professional,” said Rosensteel.  “Our dedicated manager has done a great job with oversight, training, taking the lead with handling any issues and working within our disciplinary structure. It’s a hard job, especially with the number of security professionals we have and I’m glad that Allied Universal hired someone with prior industry experience.”

Assume That Partner Mentality

To effectively deal with all these issues it is important for healthcare institutions to maximize their physical security partnerships. Savvy facility managers demand physical security providers who act as true partners and can lighten their considerable workload. 

Some ways that security professionals contribute to the healthcare environment include:

Brand Ambassadors - Security professionals can be trained to take on a customer service role. By combining customer service and security, visitors, patients and staff will feel safe and engaged the moment they enter the facility. This will also have a positive impact on patient satisfaction scores.

Security professionals can also provide extra services beyond the front door. Valet services are a growing trend at hospitals, and security professionals may be able to provide this service, while creating additional security visibility and as extra eyes and ears for the security professionals on patrol. Security professionals have also been trained to provide locksmith services, coordinate helipad arrivals/departures, and escort visitors and patients to their destination within the hospital campus.

Environment of Care (EOC) Team Members – Hospitals and medical centers maintain a long list of inspection items which security professionals can help monitor and manage. As they are on patrol, security professionals can conduct the monthly and annual fire extinguisher and fire/smoke door inspections and engage in panic/duress alarm testing.  They can test the elevators including smoke curtain deployments and plan, coordinate and execute monthly fire drills. Security professionals are on the look-out for safety hazards and proper signage as they patrol the grounds and report deficiencies as they are encountered.

Parking Lot Monitors - Security professionals can assess the moods and attitudes of people as they enter the lot or garage.  If someone seems troubled, they can offer a friendly ear and assess if the situation may escalate. They also direct people from the parking lot to where they want to go in the hospital; and even jump-start dead batteries.

Emergency Responders - Security professionals often serve as the first responders to non-medical emergencies. To successfully serve in this role, specialized training is required. Healthcare specific training for emergency response can include:

·        Disaster Response

·         Fire Response (RACE) and Prevention

·         HazMat Emergency Response

·         Workplace Violence Prevention and Response

·         Infant Abduction Prevention and Response

·         Command Center Operations 

When security responsibilities are designated to meet the specific needs of the facility, the security team can become an invaluable resource to the organization. The evolving role of security creates an advantage as these expanded roles not only accomplish additional tasks, but also position the security team to be an even better integrated and seamless part of healthcare operations. Healthcare leaders that embrace security’s role in enhancing their safety culture can tap into additional expertise and lighten their load.

About the author:  Mike Dunning, CEM, CHPA is Senior Director, Vertical Markets, Healthcare at Allied Universal.  He can be reached at [email protected]