Integrated security management deployed in university teaching hospital

Integrated security management deployed in university teaching hospital
Jersey Shore University Medical Center is a major university teaching hospital in Neptune, NJ. Since it was founded in 1904, Jersey Shore has built a solid reputation for delivering the most advanced programs and services in central New Jersey, and today it offers residency programs in various branches of medicine including cardiology, OB/GYN and pediatrics. As part of Meridian Health System, the 26-acre campus also accommodates high-risk care centers such as a neo-natal intensive care and cardiac care units.

The situation

A $300 million expansion project was completed in 2009 to add a diagnostic/treatment tower, an atrium, and a new hospital entrance. Also added were 136 inpatient beds, a state-of-the-art emergency department and trauma center, new surgical suites, an expanded outpatient pavilion and a 975-space parking garage. During the construction project, which was the largest hospital expansion in New Jersey at the time, Jersey Shore turned to security integrator Service Works (SWI) to design and install a security system that would integrate with existing equipment already in place.

The hospital's risk management plan relies heavily on access control to protect staff, students and patients throughout the facility. Proximity readers are used to segregate sensitive areas; for example, only authorized personnel can enter the suite of operating rooms. All high-risk areas of the hospital are covered—the emergency room, pharmacy, neo-natal department, and pediatric intensive care.

One consideration addressed by hospital officials was the sheer volume of people using the facility. When it was located in the old building, the emergency department alone logged 70,000 visits a year, but the increased capabilities of the new facility has seen that number swell to 90,000. With unhindered accessibility and hundreds of people coming and going each day, keeping track of that many was a major challenge.

"Another factor we had to consider is that the hospital is near some urban centers,” said David Brooks, corporate director of risk management. “Our typical patient comes more from an urban setting, and we have some concerns about gang activity. Because we are serious about protecting everyone on campus, we wanted a system that we could use to lock down the trauma center with a single keystroke.”

The solution

From the very beginning of the planning process, hospital officials knew they needed an access control solution that would integrate with the CCTV and infant abduction systems already in place. "We were looking for a non-proprietary system," said Brooks. "We wanted to avoid the problem of having to call a different vendor every time we needed something." After examining all the options available from various security providers, they decided to install Honeywell's Pro-Watch Corporate Edition security management system because it works seamlessly with third party systems.

As part of the renovation, access control was incorporated into all new areas, including gates on most levels of the new parking garage. Although all the older areas of the campus have not been retrofitted during the first phase of the project, the hospital's three-year plan includes migrating the entire facility to Pro-Watch with proximity readers. 

The benefits

A major factor of the security system was to ensure there was flexibility when issuing badges. There have been thousands of badges issued across campus to staff, emergency vehicles, medical students, lab students, respiratory students and volunteers (the medical center hosts over 200 teen volunteers in the summer). Hospital officials decided on two types of badges: a standard proximity card for team members and doctors, and a medallion that affixes to the existing magstripe badges carried by students and volunteers. According to Brooks, it’s cost effective and easier to stick a medallion on an existing badge. "That's the beauty of the system—it's so easy to update readers and change access to existing cards," he said.

The feedback received about the new system has been overwhelmingly positive. Users of the new parking garage appreciate the ease of using a proximity card from a car window. Physicians and team members say the access control system makes them feel safer. And the 35 security guards who must patrol nearly a million square feet of campus say that the simplicity afforded by the integrated system has made them more efficient.

"The Honeywell access control system has given us the ability to effectively create a shell around the emergency department, but it lets us stay flexible depending on the scenario," commented David Brooks, Corporate Director of Risk Management Jersey Shore University Medical Center.


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