Page 14 - Security Today, July/August 2020
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Securing A
Hospital Campus
Protecting parking, pedestrians and entries to the campus facility By Stephen Martorano
Security a hospital campus is very different from pro- tecting a typical commercial building. Hospitals have many more access points, as well as hundreds-to thou- sands of patients and employees to protect in a facility operating 24/7. The COVID-19 pandemic has now highlighted the need to add access restrictions for both visitors and employees for any campus building.
These challenges point out the need for thoughtful planning and execution by the facility’s security department. Let’s take a look at some of the best security practices beginning with parking garages and moving into main facilities.
Parking Structures and Pedestrians
Parking lots and garages are the first stop for most people ar- riving at a hospital campus. Parking facilities are among the most dangerous areas of any campus, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). The most recent BJS report shows more than 7 percent of the country’s violent crimes and 11 percent of property crimes occur in a parking lot or garage.
It is essential to have a readily available communication link be- tween parkers and security officers as more facilities are now unat- tended. Video intercoms embedded into ticket dispensing and revenue control systems enable a two-way conversation with the hospital secu- rity team to resolve equipment problems. Emergency stations placed near pedestrian entries, stairwells and pay stations provide a similar link for distressed patrons. Emergency towers help secure pedestrians walking on pathways between parking facilities and hospital buildings.
Protecting Entries
In the COVID-19 era, not everyone may enter the hospital – at least not as directly as they did just months ago. Hospitals are lim- iting the number of visitors and checking their body temperatures to limit the spread of the virus. Security officers are locking many ancillary doors and allowing only authorized employees to enter using access control cards or PINs.
Only two doors – those into the main lobby and the emergency department – should remain open to visitors and vendors. The main entry may be locked overnight with video intercoms enabling secu- rity to screen visitors before remotely opening the door or directing them to another entrance. Intercoms are frequently added outside entries to departments such as the pharmacy, intensive care and sur- gical suites to provide a layer of visitor management. The intercoms’ embedded cameras also allow staff to see if visitors are wearing masks and other appropriate personal protective equipment.
Many hospitals are creating locked access points beyond the lobby, keeping visitors and employees from wandering throughout the facility. Authorized staff may present ID badges to card readers for entry. Intercoms enable visitors to contact the security office for
continued access.
Vendors must register at the main lobby desk or use a visitor man-
agement system kiosk to receive a temporary badge clearly showing where they may go within the hospital. Employees must be trained to challenge people not authorized to be in certain areas.
Video Surveillance
Video cameras provide valuable real-time information when lo- cated throughout the campus. Anywhere from the parking garage to main entries, hallways, elevators, and stairwells, cameras can be in- stalled where necessary. Additional cameras can be integrated with video intercoms to provide a broader view of critical entry points. Recorded video helps with after-the-fact forensic investigations.
Hospitals and many other organizations are looking at infrared cameras to spot visitors with elevated body temperatures (EBT), a common symptom of COVID-19. The cameras use thermographic technology to rapidly detect and initiate an alarm when a set tempera- ture is exceeded by 2 degrees. While higher resolution cameras claim accuracy within half a degree, they will return false positive and nega- tive results as it is difficult to focus on one face in a crowd. The cameras work best when trained on a single person.
Securing Patients and Assets
Real-time location systems provide asset tracking. Patients and valuable mobile equipment can be tagged to allow staff to monitor their locations. Wireless RTLS tags emit a wireless radio frequency, infrared, or ultrasound signal that’s picked up by receivers mount- ed at preset chokepoints. An alarm sounds if a tagged object passes a reader. An object’s position can be determined by triangulating signals. More readers improve the system’s accuracy.
Tagging systems have greatly reduced infant abductions in hos- pitals. Tags also work well with patients prone to wandering by

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