When Greenville Hospital System (GHS) opened its doors on Jan. 10, 1912, it was a single, freestanding community hospital located in the heart of Greenville, S.C. In the past century, with particularly accelerated growth the past 10 years, GHS has evolved to an integrated health-care delivery system and now an academic medical center. Today GHS is considered South Carolina’s largest not-for-profit health-care organization with 10,000+ employees, five medical campuses throughout Greenville County and 167 affiliated physician practices across the region.
With a growing number of employees and facilities to manage, GHS decided it needed to streamline its access control and security systems on an enterprise level. For years, many of its facilities operated different access control systems. One building alone had a half-dozen different card readers deployed.
Eight years ago with oversight by Shawn Reilly, director of security and chief of police, GHS embarked on a long-term project to transform and upgrade its access control system as part of a multimillion-dollar security overhaul. The project would work in tandem with the opening of several new medical facilities across the state. “In any health-care environment, the real challenge is being open to the public. Everyone is welcomed in,” says Reilly. “At the same time, we have to maintain a high level of security. Unlike hotels, where guests lock themselves in at night, patient rooms are left unlocked.”
For GHS the security challenges varied greatly by facility. Greenville Memorial Hospital, for example, is the system’s oldest and largest facility. Previously, the facility had limited access control capabilities and needed an immediate upgrade given its sheer size and specialty areas, which include children’s, mental health and rehabilitation hospitals, and a cancer center. Patewood Memorial Hospital, on the other hand, was a brand-new facility. GHS had the opportunity to start from scratch with the design of its security system at this facility, but it was critical to select a scalable, feature-rich access control system that could expand with its needs. With 15,000 access badges and more than 700 readers, GHS also wanted to better manage who could go where within the system.
To move its security and access control capabilities into the 21st century, GHS partnered with systems integrator Tech Systems Inc., of Duluth, Ga., to implement an enterprise-level access control system for its five medical campuses. GHS selected C•CURE from Software House, enabling the system to standardize its control panels and readers, as well as centralize the monitoring and management of the access control system from Greenville Memorial Hospital.
“The challenges with this project were the number of buildings and the installation of multiple systems,” says Wayne Smith, vice president for Tech Systems. “We worked with GHS to develop a process and timeline for implementing the access control system in a structured fashion.”
Tech Systems worked closely with both Information Services and Human Resources (HR) to rebadge its entire cardholder network, ensuring all individual credentials had the correct clearances. This was a massive undertaking in which Tech Systems relied heavily on its team of Microsoft and Cisco-certified technicians. Also contributing was Software House Smart Services, a team that helps integrators and customers during and after the installation, and provides training and certification so integrators can achieve positive outcomes.
Along the way, GHS personalized the design of the system to meet its unique needs. For example, biometric readers were placed at key access points throughout the hospitals as a backup mechanism for when a doctor forgets their badge. Biometric readers have also been added at each of the pharmacies to provide multifactor authentication when used in conjunction with the C•CURE access control system.
Another important component of the access control system is its ability to integrate with the surveillance system. It was important for GHS to deploy an access control system that could work with both analog and IP cameras and enable security personnel to view video when an incident occurred, such as when a door is propped open or someone attempts to gain access to a restricted area.
C•CURE’s event monitoring capabilities enable security personnel to quickly respond in the event of an emergency or to remotely check on a situation prior to arriving on the scene. “The safety of our patients, visitors and staff is enhanced by that capability,” says Reilly. One of Reilly’s favorite aspects of the system is its interoperability between multiple platforms, such as the HR system. Tying into the HR system to generate badges for employees eliminates potentially costly errors caused by misspelling an employee’s name and needing to rebadge at a cost of $10 per badge.
With plans to upgrade existing health-care clinics throughout its coverage area in 2013, security will remain front and center for GHS as it expands its access control solution.
Jason Ouellette is the Director of Product Management for Software House, a brand of Tyco Security Products. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org