Unification is the Cure

Failing healthcare security systems confront the pain of aging technology

Lee Health operates the largest public health system in Florida. The organization welcomes more than 1 million patients each year across more than 100 sites - including four general hospitals, two specialty hospitals, and 60 non-acute centers. More than 12,500 employees, 4,500 volunteers and 1,480 medical staff ensure guests receive optimal care. Security teams stationed across five hospitals work around the clock to keep everyone safe, and ensure operations run smoothly. They also remotely oversee security at all other Lee Health sites, mitigating risks across the entire healthcare organization.

CONFRONTING THE PAIN OF AGING TECHNOLOGY

In the past, the Lee Health security department installed many different analog video and access control systems to secure each site. Over time, the technology began aging and failing.

For example, if a camera went offline or door hardware failed, the systems lack the capabilities to alert security staff to these vulnerabilities. Finding information during investigations or emergencies was also inefficient for operators. They had to juggle multiple disparate systems, which slowed down the team’s response time.

When the construction of a new state-of-the-art children’s hospital began, Lee Health saw an opportunity to upgrade all their security technology. The team wanted a unified security platform which could help them become more efficient at securing the entire organization from one central location.

Lee Health is now managing security across 20 sites and counting using the Genetec™ Security Center unified platform. After consulting with Fiber Solutions, a technology contractor, the Lee Health team saw how Security Center met all their must-have criteria.

Today, security operators at the award-winning Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida monitor video, access control, automatic license plate recognition, intercom and other security sensors from a single intuitive solution.

Now, whether an intercom call comes in from the parking garage or a camera goes offline in the emergency room, the security team can act quickly. Using the security platform, teams at each site can collaborate and share information to keep everyone safe. They have also enhanced operations in countless ways such as streamlining parking access for physicians and upholding infection containment protocols during renovations.

UNIFIES AND STREAMLINE OPERATIONS

At Lee Health, the safety of patients, staff, and guests come first. That’s why installing Security Center has been a pivotal upgrade to the organization’s security operations.

“In the past, if an alarm was activated, our team would have to check multiple systems to figure out what was going on; it was cumbersome and simply unacceptable,” said Sean Owens, director of security technology and non-acute at Lee Health. “The unified security platform provides our operators with one central source of information. It’s a refreshing change to have one solution from which the team can handle any issue.”

From the unified interface, operators view and manage video, door alarms, license plate reads, intercom and panic button notifications across many facilities. These include more than 16 non-acute centers and five major hospitals including Cape Coral Hospital, Gulf Coast Medical Center, Health Park Medical Center, Lee Memorial Hospital and Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

AN INTERFACE BUILT FOR OPERATOR EFFICIENCY

Now, when a panic alarm is triggered, operators can immediately view video to see what’s happening. They use a map of the facilities to find nearby views, unlock or lockdown doors or wings of buildings, and activate threat levels as needed.

Selecting a threat level provides operators with tools and easyto- follow procedures to address specific events as quickly as possible. While each acute site has its own security team, operators can remotely check-in on other sites and assist when needed.

“In a healthcare environment, it can get quite confusing for operators to manage cameras across many facilities because all corridors tend to look the same,” said Rodney Lavoie, president and CEO at Fiber Solutions. “Plan Manager, the map-based interface, is very helpful to customers like Lee Health because it allows users to quickly find devices within any building.”

prevent possible infant abductions. This helps operators monitor suspicious behavior and keep newborns safe. Lavoie also added, “A unified solution has many components that are specifically designed to work together. As an integrator, it’s much easier for our team to work with one manufacturer and solution than having to constantly maintain integrations following upgrades or to keep up with training from various vendors. We believe Security Center is one of the effective enterprise-level solutions on the market.”

A PLATFORM THAT BOOSTS OPERATIONS

Lee Health has experienced significant operational improvements since installing Security Center. For instance, the number of liability claims has drastically reduced. The team can now quickly and easily locate and retrieve video evidence to support or disprove claims. Savings have also come from maximizing staff resources by allowing nurses to virtually monitor patients who have high fall risks. “Instead of paying one sitter to watch one patient, our nurses can monitor a minimum of four patients using the web client. So far, this virtual sitter program has amassed a return on investment more than $7,000 per week, per unit,” Owens said.

Lee Health also provides video access to the construction team so that they can uphold infection containment protocols during renovations. This helps them comply with state and federal mandates that require hospitals to minimize contaminants such as dust or debris to avoid putting patients at risk of infection.

“We are required to have construction areas separated from the rest of the facility. Our construction team now deploys their own WI-FI cameras as needed and monitors the doors in those areas to validate whether there’s an intrusion or if someone has broken protocol,” Owens said.

Genetec Sipelia™, the intercom module of Security Center, has helped the team maintain exceptional levels of customer service. At the Gulf Coast Medical Center, for example, intercom stations are available within a massive parking garage. That way if someone requires assistance or needs a golf-cart ride to the hospital entrance, the team can receive the call directly within Security Center and begin a conversation to extend help.

“The beauty of Sipelia intercom is that if an operator is busy and cannot respond to a call, the system will automatically forward the call over to an operator in a different facility for immediate response,” Owens said.

IMPROVING THE FLOW OF PEOPLE WITH ACCESS CONTROL

The Security Center Synergis™ access control system is used to secure various doors throughout the sites. There are a few locations where card readers have also been added to elevators and specialty equipment. This helps physicians move faster through buildings by prioritizing their ride in an elevator cab and ensures that only those who are qualified to use certain machines can access them. Doctors and staff only need one card to access all the different facilities.

“We set up our cardholder groups based on discipline and responsibilities, allowing our staff to easily access our facilities. Many physicians are on call, so it’s important that they can get in and out of our buildings when required,” Owens said. To facilitate parking for physicians, vehicle license plate numbers are registered as credentials within Security Center. Instead of fumbling for cards, physicians can drive up to parking gates where ALPR cameras read the license plate number, validate the credential, and allow them to enter.

“Having to roll down a window and swipe a card at the parking gate caused delays. Vehicle throughput has increased tremendously since installing the AutoVu™ ALPR cameras. Our first cameras were installed at the Golisano Children’s Hospital,” Owens said. “The doctors loved it so much that we installed the same solution at Gulf Coast Medical Center parking as well.”

Lee health also uses the ALPR system to flag vehicles that have a history of trespassing, and to gain a better understanding of how patients, staff, and guests are using their parking lots.

THE EFFICIENT WAY TO MANAGE EVIDENCE

Lee Health facilities are always bustling. That’s why the security team is making the most of the many time-saving features in Security Center. Recently, they began using Genetec Clearance™—a digital evidence management system that works with Security Center—to facilitate the gathering and sharing of video evidence.

Now, operators can easily create cases, import video, add notes about the event and share content with authorized persons, via email. According to Owens, “One thing that we struggled with is ‘what do we do with all this video? And how do we get this video to our relevant business partners?’ Genetec Clearance allows us to dictate storage for every incident that happens within the organization. So, if it’s a slip-trip-fall event, we’ll set a minimum retention time for that video within Clearance. It acts as our central repository for all long-term video archives. We can then easily share the video with our internal teams or external agencies in an efficient and secure manner.”

While the security team is busy safeguarding the enterprise against physical threats, Security Center alerts them to cyber risks. “Security Center has a long history of being secure from a cyber-standpoint and that was part of the draw, especially for our Information Systems team. One complaint that we had concerning some of our legacy equipment was that it wasn’t up to modern cybersecurity standards. This solution allows us to close those gaps and fulfill the requirements of our IS partners,” Owens said.

The monitoring feature has been extremely helpful for the security team’s system maintenance. Owens also said, “With our previous system, we never had a full picture of the issues or opportunities to improve our system. We now have the ability to instantly check what devices might be having issues and run health history reports to address any patterns.”

EVERY SITE UP AND RUNNING

Moving forward, Lee Health is working towards getting every site up and running on the platform. There are currently more than 700 cameras and 325 connected doors, and those numbers are expected to double within the next year. After that, the security team plans to centralize the monitoring of all sites from one location. They will also be adding a mobile ALPR system to better enforce parking regulations at one of the hospitals.

“In today’s world, obtaining five different security systems is ineffective; our security needs are beyond that. With this unified security platform, we have many well-integrated solutions and options, which are more efficient for our users and more cost-effective for our organization,” said David LaRose, CHPA, CPP system director of security at Lee Health. “By bringing all these technologies together, our team can achieve maximum consistency and efficiency in fulfilling our security objective— to provide a comfortable and safe environment for the best patient outcomes.”

This article originally appeared in the May June 2021 issue of Security Today.

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