Shawn Reilly combines guards and gadgets at Greenville hospital

Sep 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Randy Southerland


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This facility, which is both a community hospital and a major regional referral center, has buildings first dedicated more than half a century ago. Reilly observes that people can enter more than 55 points posing a real challenge to controlling the movement of people in and out of the buildings, while also securing the nearby parking decks.

Hospital administration committed more than $1 million a year to securing the facility. That effort allowed the placement of cameras throughout the hospital, along with access control systems in critical areas such as labor and delivery. Areas such as the pharmacy require biometric identification, while the Emergency Department uses metal detectors to prevent the entry of firearms or other weapons. In addition, the ER has the added security of armed off-duty police officers to control volatile situations.

Retrofitting these buildings required pulling cable through areas that were never designed for electronic security. For example, cable pullers often have to be placed in side cubes with special filters and vacuums to ensure they don't contaminate a patient treatment area.

“Of course in an old building like that, I can't run a cable from point A to point B on a straight line,” Reilly says. “I go an extra 400 or 500 feet to get around places that I can't get through. So that's the big challenge - the type of doors and the cable runs that we use to get back to a particular closet where a panel is located.”

In addition, the age of the buildings prevents the full use of technology. For example, guards still carry keys for a few doors, although plans are under way to move to automated locks for the entrances as well.

Since hospitals are open environments that allow patients and visitors a great deal of freedom to come and go, security is often a soft skill. That's one of the primary reasons that Reilly has put tremendous effort into developing a professional, as well as highly visible, guard force. When staff, as well as visitors, know the officers are there and ready to handle situations, it creates an atmosphere of greater confidence.

That confidence has been reflected in the way the hospital has been able to plan for emergencies. During a recent disaster drill at one location, staff quickly and effectively locked down the hospital during a dry run for handling a contaminated person who wandered into the lobby area.

In addition, Reilly and his staff created a training section that develops and tests protocols for dealing with actual crimes the hospital is likely to face.

“A hospital is an open environment and you have to walk that tight rope between providing good security for the people who are there and keeping out the people who would want to do harm to others,” Reilly says.

Visit sireillyrisk.com for more information about Shawn Reilly and the company S.I. Reilly & Associates.

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