A Rush to Security

Making sure hospital employees are safe

The workplace is supposed to be a safe place. A hospital, especially, is meant to be a place of health and healing for patients and a safe place to work for staff.

Rush University Medical Center in Chicago is like many other medical facilities, where the mission is to provide the best care possible. Hospital officials also know that security is a key component to the hospital’s mission and the safety and security of its employees.

But recently, security at the hospital came face-to-face with near disaster following a domestic dispute.

Crisis on Campus
A person suspected of having explosives at his home was believed to be on the hospital campus.  Using the security system, security staff members were able to assist police in identifying where the suspect was, which allowed the police to quickly apprehend him without incident.

A crisis averted, the security staff could recount the minute-by-minute successes of its security system. Rush University Medical Center had recently enhanced their access control system from the Software House C•CURE 800/8000 to the newest offering of C•CURE 9000.

With the newer system, the user interface is more refined and security management is able to integrate all video, including access control and alarms, onto a singular system.

“Now, we’re able to stream multiple video systems through this VMS and integrate graphics, video and access control into a singular mode,” said Lauris Freidenfelds, director of security and emergency management at Rush University Medical Center. “We were not unsatisfied with the VMS system we were using. In fact, we still have it deployed during the installation of C•CURE 9000. We simply found a technological superior service and are in the process of installing it throughout the facility.”

A Shift in Technology
Like most medical care facilities, Rush University Medical Center is growing. It currently employs 300 card readers and 400 cameras. Now, double that number for both access control and video surveillance, and that represents the expansion of the facility. Securing the hospital staff is front and center for facility security.

“All hospital staff have cards with appropriate technology, where each person is controlled within their own environment,” Freidenfelds said. “Each card represents the areas of the facility where a person is permitted to go. For instance, someone working in the emergency room area may not be permitted in cardiology or pediatrics. The card is programmed to allow employees the freedom within their own domain.”

Most of the new card readers and video surveillance equipment is being placed in the emergency room area, where the hospital is growing threefold. A secure emergency room and surrounding area means the hospital and facility in general are more secure. As the migration to C•CURE 9000 progresses, it also includes the use of wireless locks throughout the medical facility.

Change is Good
Security officials have integrated Schlage locks, changing the very nature of their access control system. The locks are included on a personnel database, and security knows when and where hospital staff are going throughout the day, all thanks to a panel interface module.

“Regardless of the facility, from large hospitals with complex demands to a small clinic with only a few openings, the modular nature of these electronic AAD-series locks let providers customize the level of security needed at each door with a large selection of credential and networking options,” said Matt Conrad, director of the healthcare market at Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies. “While protecting people in their facilities is today’s most important security priority, electronic locks also protect the provider’s investment.

“It is easy to add more locks or change credentials, networking options or software without replacing the locks. Upgrades can be as simple as interchanging a module.”

Security is constantly evolving, which is why Rush University Medical Center is updating its video management software and door locking system. Both provide seamless integration with current software and upgrades.

The technologies are custom fit, both on the door and the IT server. The proprietary command center is implementing the networking solution, and as security changes over time and technology gives way, so does the need for a common credential strategy throughout the facility.

An alarm will notify security staff in the command center when something has gone awry, and the operator is alerted to the proper video monitor to respond to the event.

It’s no small wonder that the medical facility is rushing to the updated technology.

This article originally appeared in the August 2010 issue of Security Today.

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