Special Needs Hospital Secured Inside, and Out
Find out how a local security provider installed an advanced video surveillance solution, among other security and life-safety systems at a psychiatric care center.
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A.S.A.P. Provides Multiple Systems
For the various work performed by A.S.A.P. throughout the initial phase of the renovation, the company staffed anywhere from two to seven technicians. Their work included upgrading the fire alarm with a Siemens networked panel, as well as overhauling the 30-year-old structure’s sprinkler system. Additionally, an overhead paging system was installed by the company.
The safety of staff and patients was further enhanced with an access control system by Galaxy. The proximity card system is supplemented with an additional layer of protection that requires users to input a five-digit PIN to identify who is moving through the facility and to ensure hospital policy.
A patient tracking system was also installed by A.S.A.P. Forensic patients are issued wristbands, which are equipped with an RFID tag. Transponders located in the ceilings monitor the locations of the tags and produce graphical images of the floors to track patient movement. Such a solution was imperative to help allay concerns some community members expressed about having forensic patients boarded so close to residential neighborhoods.
“Highland Hospital came to us and we worked out what type of system was available,” says Randy Jarrell. “They held meetings with the community and explained this is what we are proposing to give them a clear understanding of the available technology.”
Among the integrations between the security systems, access control is tied to the patient tracking system. Here, doors will lock whenever a forensic patient challenges an entrance. Input/output connection for video allows for integration as well. One of the larger challenges A.S.A.P. encountered was interfacing the access control system with the elevators. The difficulty was allocating elevator cars to certain staff members during certain hours of the day. “That was probably the biggest integration headache we had was with elevator control,” Randy Jarrell says.
The challenge, he explains, is elevator companies aren’t necessarily focused on meeting physical security concerns. You push a button and the car comes to your floor. You push a button and you go to another floor.
“That is the elevator company’s mindset. I don’t think they have gotten themselves acclimated to access control and security needs. They are getting there; the demand was put on them for security that they weren’t prepared to meet,” he says.
To ensure a forensic patient never gains control of an elevator, card readers are strategically placed and strictly controlled by access rights. For example, nurses come on shift and go to their assigned floor. If they are escorting a forensic patient, both the patient-tracking system reader and the access control badge have to marry in order to unlock an elevator door without setting off an alarm.
“The nurse will be able to get into that elevator with the patient but only go to certain areas,” Renay Jarrell explains. “The elevator will only open at a certain place. It takes a massive amount of programming to allow staff members to move about and maintain that higher level of security.”
A.S.A.P. began its multidiscipline work at the hospital in January 2013, completing all of its tasks to bring the systems online and ahead of the project’s completion date. By August last year the facility was admitting its first patients to the 35-bed child and adolescent unit. Other areas that still await patients are nonetheless secured and being monitored to prevent any security breaches. With A.S.A.P.’s work ongoing at the hospital as the renovation expands, Renay Jarrell is introspective about the greater good of the project in the community.
“It is extremely impressive to see the work already completed there and realize, as a mom, there are little kids in there,” she says. “These people are doing a fine job getting these patients the help they need and secure them for the community.”
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