Rush to Campus Security - Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, a 664-bed hospital, wanted to increase security and simplify its key system, starting with its new 14-story, 375-bed tower hospital building.

Rush to Campus Security

New access control system helps regain control

Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, a 664-bed hospital, wanted to increase security and simplify its key system, starting with its new 14-story, 375-bed tower hospital building. The project was part of a long-term, comprehensive effort to enhance security at all Rush facilities, including Rush University, Rush Oak Park Hospital and Rush Health.

As part of its master plan, Rush wanted an access control system that could expand to meet its needs over the next 10 years, not only for the tower but also across its other 25 buildings. Additionally, it needed to regain control of and simplify its key system. Both required solutions that were flexible, dependable and straightforward so they could be handled by the health network’s technical engineering team.

Wireless access control. The health network’s interest in wireless electronic security began several years prior with a central kitchen project that required a large amount of wiring to install the system. Since then, wireless has been their first choice. It provides savings in both cost and time—and offers the most convenience.

The health network selected a system built around Schlage AD-400 wireless electronic locks with integrated readers. More than 500 locks were part of the initial system. Future campus upgrades are to include an additional 400 locks.

The locks provide online, real-time access control and are uniquely designed with easily changeable reader modules—ideal for future upgrades since they don’t require changing the entire lock. All required hardware components are combined into a single integrated design that incorporates the electrified lock, credential reader, request to-exit switch, door position switch and tamper guard.

AD Series locks were added to openings that separate public areas from restricted areas, such as private offices or cross corridors between buildings. While keys are used on offices and suites within these areas, card readers control access to the areas themselves.

“Any time we have a new capital project, whether they’re doing an entire floor or suite, we put a wireless reader on areas where we have issues with access and key control,” said Mike Craig, medical center engineering assistant director.

Craig also said that departments within the organization request the electronic locks for the convenience of not having to use keys and to have better control over security.

Key management system. In addition to improving its electronic access control, Rush wanted to upgrade its key system. Mechanical keys were used in many applications throughout the hospital for overrides on the electronic locks and in areas where the user numbers were small and not often changed. According to Craig, the previous system had been expanded to more than 8,000 cylinders and included more than a half dozen different keyways—making it increasingly difficult to know who had the keys and masters.

To regain key control and simplify management of an ever-expanding system, the health network worked with Allegion to develop a new plan based on the Schlage Everest 29 patent-protected keyway. The keyway’s new undercut design offers protection through 2029, and delivers the highest level of mechanical security available because it cannot be duplicated without authorization.

Allegion key consultants helped Rush develop a system that will be expandable for at least the next 10 years, all without creating another master. To keep track of the new keys, the hospital uses a key management software system that manages key distribution. Over a two-year process, Rush is converting its buildings with mechanical access to the Everest 29.

Other Allegion hardware solutions implemented at Rush include LCN Senior Swing automatic door operators and 4041 door closers, Von Duprin 98/99 series exit devices, Glynn-Johnson hospital push/ pull locks, and hold-opens and Ives hinges.


The tower project provided an opportunity to achieve greater savings by incorporating wireless security on a larger scale.

“Once we install a panel to interface with our security system, we can handle up to 16 locks on that single panel without installing conduit and pulling wires,” Craig said. “We save the cost of these materials and the time it takes to put them in place.”

Additionally, because the system is modular in design, it provides flexibility for future upgrades and expansions. All of these solutions have become part of the product specification guide used to unify door and security hardware throughout all Rush facilities. Products included in the guide are chosen for expected life, service needs, parts availability and cost.

“Standardizing also makes it easier for the hospital’s staff to stock parts and to perform maintenance when needed,” Craig said.

This article originally appeared in the January 2016 issue of Security Today.


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