Unification is the Cure
Failing healthcare security systems confront the pain of aging technology
- By Despina Stamatelos
- Jun 01, 2021
Lee Health operates the largest public health system
in Florida. The organization welcomes more than
1 million patients each year across more than 100
sites - including four general hospitals, two specialty
hospitals, and 60 non-acute centers. More than
12,500 employees, 4,500 volunteers and 1,480 medical staff ensure
guests receive optimal care. Security teams stationed across
five hospitals work around the clock to keep everyone safe, and
ensure operations run smoothly. They also remotely oversee security
at all other Lee Health sites, mitigating risks across the entire
CONFRONTING THE PAIN OF AGING TECHNOLOGY
In the past, the Lee Health security department installed many
different analog video and access control systems to secure each
site. Over time, the technology began aging and failing.
For example, if a camera went offline or door hardware failed,
the systems lack the capabilities to alert security staff to these vulnerabilities.
Finding information during investigations or emergencies
was also inefficient for operators. They had to juggle multiple
disparate systems, which slowed down the team’s response time.
When the construction of a new state-of-the-art children’s
hospital began, Lee Health saw an opportunity to upgrade all
their security technology. The team wanted a unified security
platform which could help them become more efficient at securing
the entire organization from one central location.
Lee Health is now managing security across 20 sites and counting
using the Genetec™ Security Center unified platform. After consulting
with Fiber Solutions, a technology contractor, the Lee Health
team saw how Security Center met all their must-have criteria.
Today, security operators at the award-winning Golisano
Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida monitor video, access
control, automatic license plate recognition, intercom and other
security sensors from a single intuitive solution.
Now, whether an intercom call comes in from the parking garage
or a camera goes offline in the emergency room, the security
team can act quickly. Using the security platform, teams at each
site can collaborate and share information to keep everyone safe.
They have also enhanced operations in countless ways such as
streamlining parking access for physicians and upholding infection
containment protocols during renovations.
UNIFIES AND STREAMLINE OPERATIONS
At Lee Health, the safety of patients, staff, and guests come first.
That’s why installing Security Center has been a pivotal upgrade
to the organization’s security operations.
“In the past, if an alarm was activated, our team would have
to check multiple systems to figure out what was going on; it was
cumbersome and simply unacceptable,” said Sean Owens, director
of security technology and non-acute at Lee Health. “The
unified security platform provides our operators with one central
source of information. It’s a refreshing change to have one solution
from which the team can handle any issue.”
From the unified interface, operators view and manage video,
door alarms, license plate reads, intercom and panic button
notifications across many facilities. These include more than 16
non-acute centers and five major hospitals including Cape Coral
Hospital, Gulf Coast Medical Center, Health Park Medical Center,
Lee Memorial Hospital and Golisano Children’s Hospital of
AN INTERFACE BUILT FOR OPERATOR EFFICIENCY
Now, when a panic alarm is triggered, operators can immediately
view video to see what’s happening. They use a map of the facilities
to find nearby views, unlock or lockdown doors or wings of
buildings, and activate threat levels as needed.
Selecting a threat level provides operators with tools and easyto-
follow procedures to address specific events as quickly as possible.
While each acute site has its own security team, operators
can remotely check-in on other sites and assist when needed.
“In a healthcare environment, it can get quite confusing for
operators to manage cameras across many facilities because all
corridors tend to look the same,” said Rodney Lavoie, president
and CEO at Fiber Solutions. “Plan Manager, the map-based interface,
is very helpful to customers like Lee Health because it
allows users to quickly find devices within any building.”
prevent possible infant abductions. This helps operators monitor
suspicious behavior and keep newborns safe. Lavoie also added,
“A unified solution has many components that are specifically designed
to work together. As an integrator, it’s much easier for our
team to work with one manufacturer and solution than having to
constantly maintain integrations following upgrades or to keep up
with training from various vendors. We believe Security Center is
one of the effective enterprise-level solutions on the market.”
A PLATFORM THAT BOOSTS OPERATIONS
Lee Health has experienced significant operational improvements
since installing Security Center. For instance, the number of liability
claims has drastically reduced. The team can now quickly and easily
locate and retrieve video evidence to support or disprove claims.
Savings have also come from maximizing staff resources by allowing
nurses to virtually monitor patients who have high fall risks.
“Instead of paying one sitter to watch one patient, our nurses
can monitor a minimum of four patients using the web client. So
far, this virtual sitter program has amassed a return on investment
more than $7,000 per week, per unit,” Owens said.
Lee Health also provides video access to the construction team
so that they can uphold infection containment protocols during
renovations. This helps them comply with state and federal mandates
that require hospitals to minimize contaminants such as
dust or debris to avoid putting patients at risk of infection.
“We are required to have construction areas separated from
the rest of the facility. Our construction team now deploys their
own WI-FI cameras as needed and monitors the doors in those
areas to validate whether there’s an intrusion or if someone has
broken protocol,” Owens said.
Genetec Sipelia™, the intercom module of Security Center,
has helped the team maintain exceptional levels of customer service.
At the Gulf Coast Medical Center, for example, intercom
stations are available within a massive parking garage. That way
if someone requires assistance or needs a golf-cart ride to the hospital
entrance, the team can receive the call directly within Security
Center and begin a conversation to extend help.
“The beauty of Sipelia intercom is that if an operator is busy
and cannot respond to a call, the system will automatically forward
the call over to an operator in a different facility for immediate
response,” Owens said.
IMPROVING THE FLOW OF PEOPLE
WITH ACCESS CONTROL
The Security Center Synergis™ access control system is used to
secure various doors throughout the sites. There are a few locations
where card readers have also been added to elevators and specialty
equipment. This helps physicians move faster through buildings by
prioritizing their ride in an elevator cab and ensures that only those
who are qualified to use certain machines can access them. Doctors
and staff only need one card to access all the different facilities.
“We set up our cardholder groups based on discipline and
responsibilities, allowing our staff to easily access our facilities.
Many physicians are on call, so it’s important that they can get in
and out of our buildings when required,” Owens said.
To facilitate parking for physicians, vehicle license plate numbers
are registered as credentials within Security Center. Instead
of fumbling for cards, physicians can drive up to parking gates
where ALPR cameras read the license plate number, validate the
credential, and allow them to enter.
“Having to roll down a window and swipe a card at the parking
gate caused delays. Vehicle throughput has increased tremendously
since installing the AutoVu™ ALPR cameras. Our first
cameras were installed at the Golisano Children’s Hospital,” Owens
said. “The doctors loved it so much that we installed the same
solution at Gulf Coast Medical Center parking as well.”
Lee health also uses the ALPR system to flag vehicles that
have a history of trespassing, and to gain a better understanding
of how patients, staff, and guests are using their parking lots.
THE EFFICIENT WAY TO MANAGE EVIDENCE
Lee Health facilities are always bustling. That’s why the security
team is making the most of the many time-saving features in Security
Center. Recently, they began using Genetec Clearance™—a
digital evidence management system that works with Security
Center—to facilitate the gathering and sharing of video evidence.
Now, operators can easily create cases, import video, add
notes about the event and share content with authorized persons,
via email. According to Owens, “One thing that we struggled
with is ‘what do we do with all this video? And how do we get
this video to our relevant business partners?’ Genetec Clearance
allows us to dictate storage for every incident that happens within
the organization. So, if it’s a slip-trip-fall event, we’ll set a minimum
retention time for that video within Clearance. It acts as our
central repository for all long-term video archives. We can then
easily share the video with our internal teams or external agencies
in an efficient and secure manner.”
While the security team is busy safeguarding the enterprise
against physical threats, Security Center alerts them to cyber
risks. “Security Center has a long history of being secure from a
cyber-standpoint and that was part of the draw, especially for our
Information Systems team. One complaint that we had concerning
some of our legacy equipment was that it wasn’t up to modern
cybersecurity standards. This solution allows us to close those
gaps and fulfill the requirements of our IS partners,” Owens said.
The monitoring feature has been extremely helpful for the security
team’s system maintenance. Owens also said, “With our
previous system, we never had a full picture of the issues or opportunities
to improve our system. We now have the ability to instantly
check what devices might be having issues and run health
history reports to address any patterns.”
EVERY SITE UP AND RUNNING
Moving forward, Lee Health is working towards getting every site
up and running on the platform. There are currently more than
700 cameras and 325 connected doors, and those numbers are
expected to double within the next year. After that, the security
team plans to centralize the monitoring of all sites from one location.
They will also be adding a mobile ALPR system to better
enforce parking regulations at one of the hospitals.
“In today’s world, obtaining five different security systems is
ineffective; our security needs are beyond that. With this unified
security platform, we have many well-integrated solutions and
options, which are more efficient for our users and more cost-effective
for our organization,” said David LaRose, CHPA, CPP
system director of security at Lee Health. “By bringing all these
technologies together, our team can achieve
maximum consistency and efficiency in fulfilling
our security objective— to provide a comfortable
and safe environment for the best patient
This article originally appeared in the May June 2021 issue of Security Today.