In the day and age of terrorism and high crime, facilities of all kinds are taking drastic security measures to protect their employees and the public. Whether an office building, staff room, or manufacturing plant, precautions are taken to keep out unwanted guests and track those who have access. City hospitals fall high on the list of facilities that need to take extra precautions with their security.
Liberty Health encompasses three hospitals in eastern New Jersey, U.S.A: Jersey City Medical Center and Greenville Hospital, both located in Jersey City and Meadowland Hospital in Secaucus. Jersey City Medical also has two clinics nearby including a behavioral health clinic.
Jersey City Medical Center, a brand new city hospital, required intense security measures that today’s hospitals demand. Controlling access to restricted areas such as the pharmacies, surgical wings and psychiatric areas is a typical security requirement.
The public relations challenge Jersey City Medical Center faced was first, creating a safe environment to attract patients and staff. And second, to convince patients and staff that the hospital was a safe place to seek medical treatment. Located in downtown Jersey City, directly across from the Statue of Liberty, they had a challenge other hospitals do not. They look out their windows and are reminded of the 9/11 every day. Attracting an impressive medical staff in this work environment proved a challenge. Attracting patients came next.
“We needed to make people feel safe - that they had a safe environment to work in,” said Tim Woodward, corporate director of safety and security, Liberty Health. “Staff didn’t feel as secure in a city environment. We have attracted staff because we became safer.”
Woodward worked with senior administration to design a comprehensive security management system to attract medical staff and patients. After completing a risk assessment, he focused on filtering visitors through the center core elevators in the lobby to control access into and exiting the hospital.
Woodward chose Engineered Security Systems to design and engineer a security management system based upon Jersey City’s specifications.
Liberty Health installed a G4Tec Professional Edition security management system with integrated Panasonic CCTV using an Integral digital video recorder, Aiphone Telephone Entry system, and Visonics panic alarms. An infant protection system was also installed.
“As a system’s integrator, we take all different aspects of security and integrate them so the end user can manage the entire system using one head end,” said David George, president, Engineered Security Systems. “All components interface and communicate. That’s why we chose G4Tec as the access control vendor of choice. It was the most flexible for integrating all the systems.”
The 348,000 square foot medical center allowed visitors to enter through the lobby where they utilized the visitor management system. Approximately 105 proximity access control readers were placed in stairwells and in other sensitive areas including the pharmacy, operating rooms, pediatrics, maternity and psychiatric wings.
“A main goal was to not get anything too complicated,” said Woodward. “We used proximity technology at the old medical center and didn’t want anything new. We made sure the staff had an easy transition and used something familiar to them.”
Eighty cameras throughout the medical center record all activity. Six pan/tilt/zoom cameras sit on top of the medical center and the behavioral health buildings to record outside activity.
The nursing staffs in the behavioral health building and Jersey City Medical Center emergency room wear G4Tec’s individual panic alarms. “If a nurse is ever trapped, she sounds an alarm that’s located around her neck,” said Woodward. “She hits a button and security will respond immediately.”
The security office console has eight, 20” flat screens that assist security guards in managing the integrated security management system. One screen manages video programming, one administers the access control, one manages infant protection alarms, and five screens manage the video. Screens are monitored 24 hours per day, and routine guard tours are performed. The security department prints all badges at one badging station within the office.
“You can’t get anywhere in the hospital without being recorded,” said Engineered Security Systems, George. The PTZ cameras on the perimeter and six position low light cameras on the interior utilize video motion detection when recording, freeing up hard drive space on the digital recorders. Cameras record one or two clips every 15 seconds. The video recorder comes ready to record with one terabyte of storage.
It interfaced with the video and panic alarms, and made it easier for operators to navigate through the system.
“David George introduced the product to me and felt there was no better product out there,” said Liberty Health’s Woodward. “The system can be expanded into other areas and I can put multiple security functions on the program. G4Tec upgrades and has innovative ideas; it’s never a stagnant system, it’s always improving. It helps us to develop a better security system for our staff. We are exploring the Threat Level Manager module now.”
Liberty Health solicited pre-qualified, experienced, and responsible contractors to “design and build” the complex integrated security system for the newest hospital in the State of New Jersey. Founded in 1971, Engineered Security Systems, Inc. was selected as the best local security contractor capable to undertake and successfully manage the overall project. The project was completed on time in February 2004, and the hospital officially opened May 16, 2004. Woodward found the security management system easy to use, scalable in size and was impressed with the network capability. He decided to bring on different divisions of the hospital that were at other locations through a fiber network.
All staff are required to wear an ID badge at all times.
The pharmacy requires card access 24 hours a day, seven days a week for all staff. Only authorized employees can enter and a camera records all activity.
The surgical and intensive care units are locked and patrolled. Visitors are not allowed. If someone needs access, they must contact the nurse’s office and ask permission.
The operating room has access control but that is mainly to prevent infection. Vendors and employees cannot gain access.
Pediatrics, maternity and psychiatric all require authorized staff access and have cameras positioned throughout. The nursery increased security by requiring a card swipe and pin number to enter.
All readers are Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant.
“The security management system has worked out quite well; it’s developing and constantly incorporating new technology and that’s what I like about it,” said Woodward.
Liberty Health plans to expand the system into the cardiac health wing to stop people from coming in after hours. The system will be on timed access, and only allow authorized employees.
“The system is easy to understand, user friendly, and I recommend it to my other security colleagues throughout the country” said Woodward.
Liberty Health achieved their goal of creating a safe environment for patients and staff.
“Patients have commented that this is one of the safer hospitals in the state,” Woodward said. “Crime in the hospital has dropped 25 percent since we’ve implemented the system.”