Sep 1, 2006 12:00 PM, By Carol Carey
Security professionals know that support from upper management is crucial, a truth that is demonstrated at Parker Jewish Institute, an adult health care and rehabilitation facility in New Hyde Park, N.Y. James Civil, director of safety, security and support services, credits the 527-bed facility's president and chief executive officer, Michael N. Rosenblut, with taking an aggressive, proactive approach to security. That approach has resulted in key improvements at the facility, from an expanded and upgraded CCTV system, to new visitor management and access control systems, to a restructuring of the security department.
“As a facility in New York City, we have a heightened awareness of the necessity for security, so we have put systems in place to monitor access control very closely,” Civil says. “Our CEO and president has been very proactive and supportive, staying current on security and technology issues.
Civil believes that long-term care facilities have historically trailed hospitals in embracing security technology, a trend that is currently changing, he says. He believes Parker is at the forefront of the security evolution occurring in these health care facilities. “Many long-term-care facilities are coming to see that we have to make the same investment in security as hospitals,” Civil says. “A prime example of this would be the technology hospitals have embraced to curb infant abductions. With the aging Baby Boomer population, it is becoming more apparent that long-term-care facilities must take similar care to protect wandering, eloping patients at their facilities.”
Parker has had technology in place for some time to deal with resident safety and security, using a code-alert system by RF Technology, Brookfield, Wis., consisting of bracelets with a transmitter worn by certain residents, and receivers mounted at specified doors to pick up signals should a resident wearing a bracelet approach. The upgraded CCTV system has augmented and enhanced this code-alert system.
“We have the code-alert receivers installed at locations where we feel there is a vulnerability to residents leaving their unit or the building,” Civil says. “For instance, the main entrance would be one such vulnerable point. We have placed cameras strategically to help us address issues relating to unauthorized resident movement.”
Civil previously worked for the New York City Health and Hospitals Corp. as regional associate director of hospital police for the Queens Health Network. He is currently responsible for two Parker facilities — the main, eight-story, 527-bed facility, which has approximately 1,000 employees; and the One Delaware Drive site, which has hospice, adult day care, diagnostic and treatment services, and a home health care program.
Civil has supervised the upgrading of CCTV, access control and visitor management systems, along with the restructuring of the security department. “Three years ago, Parker was using a black-and-white, analog system with standard VCR recording. We had fewer than 30 cameras total, and no pan/tilt/zoom,” Civil says. “Since that time, we have doubled the number of cameras, and gone to a color, digital system. We now have approximately 70 cameras, including a Pelco Spectra Dome 3 day/night pan/tilt/zoom camera in front of the main facility. This camera overlooks part of the parking lot of Parker, the front of the facility, the driveway and the adjacent Long Island Jewish Hospital Center's physician's parking lot.”
The other cameras are fixed, color Panasonic mini-domes, Civil says. “They are discreet, small and unobtrusive indoor cameras. We use the WVCF 224 Panasonic cameras. We also have four Mitsubishi DX-PC 25U 240 gigabyte Digital Video Recorders, each with a 16-camera color multiplexer. All 16 cameras record in real time simultaneously. One of these DVRs is dedicated to the Delaware Drive site, where we have five indoor cameras.”
The cameras, powered by a central Altronix UL-listed 16-camera master power supply, are connected by plenum-rated cable to the DVRs. A cable from each DVR is then connected to Parker's LAN through a network jack. The cameras can be viewed by authorized users from their PCs. Software for the DVRs has been installed on selected PCs.
As the system administrator, Civil decides who among his security staff is authorized to view the cameras, and at what access level. “I set the access parameters,” Civil says. “Security supervisors have modified access to the network to review incidents or time frames, but cannot change any of the recording parameters,” he says. The cameras were supplied and installed by SV Video Service, Jericho, N.Y.
All entrances and exits in the main building, are monitored by the cameras as well as strategic points in which patient movement needs to be monitored. One camera, for instance, has been placed at the 8th floor roof stairwell and covers the inside corridor leading to the roof landing.
In addition, there is a 20-inch LCD flat screen at the lobby desk with a built-in switcher that monitors lower-level cameras, which lead to the adjacent building. “As at any facility, the cameras have paid for themselves in helping to control and deter employee theft,” Civil says
Access control enhances security
In addition to upgrading and expanding the CCTV system, Parker expects to have a new access control system from Continental Instruments, Amityville, N.Y., installed at the Delaware Drive building by early fall. A self-service kiosk to streamline and upgrade visitor management at the main facility will be installed in the near future.
The Continental Instruments Enterprise Class Access Control system uses mini-prox readers from HID Global, Irvine, Calif. Six readers will be installed at Delaware in strategic locations, Civil says. The software will be installed on a PC, with Civil overseeing authorization of access levels. The system includes the SuperTerm 8-door controller, and all employees at Delaware Drive will be issued prox cards from Metropolitan Data Solutions, Melville, N.Y.
“We're planning to expand the system to the main building next year,” Civil says. “We will also have the capacity to add controllers and readers at Delaware Drive should we need to expand there.”
New visitor management system
While the new access control system at the Delaware Drive site will enhance security, an electronic kiosk to be installed at the main facility's lobby will upgrade visitor management. The system, from LobbyGuard Solutions LLC, Raleigh, N.C., is a single unit with a built-in camera, bar code scanner, printer and LCD screen that can sit on a counter.
“Visitors will need a valid I.D,” Civil says. “The system will print a visitor badge, in the form of a label, which has a bar code. The bar code on the pass will enable us to scan visitors as they leave, as well. Visitors can use the kiosk by themselves, or ask for help from one of the security officers on duty at the lobby.”
The current procedure is manual, Civil says, with visitors signing in at the lobby and telling the security officer where they are going. The new system will be automatic, will keep a record of visitors and will require an I.D. “The visitors will be scanned out with a bar code scanner used by the security officer,” Civil says.
Security department restructured
Civil's security staff is an important part of Parker's overall security program. A combination of in-house and outsourced personnel — what he calls a “hybrid” staff. Initially, the staff was all in-house, or proprietary. “The transition from proprietary to hybrid has worked extremely well,” he says, “and reflects management's commitment to security. We retained certain members of the original department and created a supervisory level. Now, the supervisors are proprietary, while the security officers are contract.”
Parker uses Securitas Inc. for the contract officers. “We contract approximately six security officers,” Civil says. “We have six in-house supervisors, who work day, afternoon and night shifts, along with a per diem supervisor. This arrangement gives us the flexibility of having supervisory personnel available when and where needed.”
Civil has carefully chosen people of varied backgrounds to provide the security force with diverse skills. Supervisors may come from law enforcement or correctional backgrounds, and all are certified fire drill instructors, Civil says.
Security supervisors are responsible for patrol tours, fire safety, fire drills and equipment maintenance, among other tasks. They use the PulseStar guard tour system by Videx, Corvallis, Ore., which includes a small metallic wand with memory. The software, installed in a PC, is programmed for pre-determined tours. Officers touch the wand to a tag on the wall at specific points on their tour to verify their presence. When the tour is ended, the data from each tour is downloaded from the wand into the PC. In this way, Parker can verify that the tours have been completed. One security supervisor prints out daily tour reports.
Civil's officers are also involved with life safety, from fire drills to disaster training. Fire, disaster and Code Gray (patient elopement) drills are conducted regularly. Roof drills help employees deal with the potential of patients wandering toward the roof. “We also do table-top drills with both managerial and non-managerial staff, which emphasize planning. We'll discuss a scenario, such as an approaching storm, and ways to deal with the event. This gives people a chance to critique the plans and see how they would act in these situations,” Civil says.
Parker also uses an alarm system monitored through Electronix, Huntington Station, N.Y. “These are audible alarms for which we follow an emergency procedure including response and investigation of the alarm,” Civil says.
Providing for upgrades, expansion and new technology are not simply one-time tasks, but represent Parker's on-going, vigilant approach to the safety and security of patients, employees and visitors.
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