Ensuring Safe Environments

Visible controls help assure confidence in safety and security of medical facilities

People usually think of doors as a means of keeping someone out, or alternately, keeping someone in. Doors provide privacy and, when locked, a level of security that is both simple and effective. Doors can be opened manually with a handle or push bar; they can slide open; be revolving or swinging; doors can be opened automatically with the push of a button or the swipe of a card; can be programmed to open automatically only when another door is closed; doors can be alarmed, and so on.

While it may seem unnecessary, all of these types of entrance/exit doors and accompanying hardware are often needed in a hospital, elder care facility or medical environment to meet various life safety codes, security precautions or staff/patient movement. The physical security and safety of patients, staff and visitors, as well as asset protection, play a significant role in determining what kinds of door access control is needed.

Intelligent and reliable access control solutions help security professionals in managing risk and enhancing protection and conforming to ADA requirements. Deciding on the right tools to meet requirements of local, state and federal regulations as well as facility needs however can be complicated.

Electromagnetic Locks – Used for swinging doors provide positive, instantaneous door control. They are inherently failsafe, releasing instantly upon command or loss of power to provide unobstructed egress. Independent of any mechanical type locks, they have no moving parts and are easy to retrofit onto existing doors. Alternately, mortised electromagnetic locks are used where aesthetics are concerned such as hospital lobbies and vestibule entrances.

Another kind of maglock that can be implemented to provide added security is one for cabinets and drawers or pedestrian gates. These small but powerful magnetic locks can have a holding force of 300 pounds and are capable of being controlled individually, sequentially or simultaneously from one or several locations. And because of their confined magnetic field they can safely be used in computer rooms and other electronically sensitive areas within a hospital environment.

R-E-X Push Buttons – Used in areas where security codes require a readily apparent and easy-to-use door control or electric lock release. They are easy to operate and are available for use in outdoor or harsh operating conditions as well as with alternate action, momentary or time delayed contacts. Proximity activated switches can help decrease the potential to spread contagious diseases since no actual hand contract is required to activate. Super bright LEDs clearly indicate whether doors are locked or unlocked.

Mantrap/Interlock Doors – Mantraps are often manual swing doors forming a vestibule but they can also utilize automatic doors or gates. Two door mantraps are most common but systems can incorporate many doors when several controlled areas are interconnected. Life safety codes may be involved when mantraps are used to limit ingress and egress. These will require that door interlock systems be interfaced with the fire alarm control to allow an emergency door release. A local emergency pull station may be required to allow doors to be unlocked in non-fire alarm emergencies or to interface the mantrap system with NFPA 101 delayed egress controls.

Door Prop Alarms – Used primarily for exit doors, these alarms provide an audible warning sounder at the door as well as activating an alarm relay to signal other remote monitoring systems.

Panic Devices/Emergency Pull Stations – As the name implies, these devices facilitate quick and safe egress from the facility in case of emergency.

Should we find ourselves or our loved ones as the patient of a hospital, elderly care facility or other healthcare provider, we put our trust in the safety and security of the environment that we are in. Visible and reliable entrance/ exit door security goes a long way in reinforcing that trust.

This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of Security Today.

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