How to integrate security into healthcare construction
YARMOUTH, Maine—Getting the security department to the table at the beginning of any construction or renovation project can be, depending on the business, a constant struggle for security managers. But having a well-documented set of best practices for how to integrate security into nascent design and architectural discussions is a powerful tool, which can demonstrate how including security early can reduce future risks and save money in the long run.
At least, that's what the International Association for Healthcare Security & Safety hopes its recently released "Security Design Guidelines for Healthcare Facilities" will allow security managers and planning staff to prove.
The consistency of having security managers at the design table varies among health care facilities, Evelyn Meserve, executive director of IAHSS, told Security Director News. But she expects these guidelines—the first to be developed exclusively with the health care sector in mind—will help those in security to be more "proactive" about joining the discussion earlier, rather than having to be "reactive after the fact."
"Quite often in health care, security is not at the table when the first conversations are occurring about the design of a new emergency room, a new pharmacy, etc.," Meserve said. "Our hope is that the guidelines would get out there to the individuals and provide the information, as well as really show that it's imperative that security be at the table to be discussing this."
The guidelines are specifically tailored to various health care-related construction or renovation projects, including inpatient facilities, emergency departments, mental health areas, pharmacies and radiation areas, among others.
Including security from the outset is advantageous, she said. It allows health care facilities to better integrate security technology into the design, which will reduce future risk and save money. "The installation of equipment is significantly more expensive after the infrastructure area has already been put up," she said. "If the security products are installed during the building phases of the project, it is less expensive for the facility."
The association created a task force to develop the guidelines, which took 13 months and was funded by the International Healthcare Security & Safety Foundation. The task force was chaired by Tom Smith, director of police and transportation at the University of NC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, N.C., and comprised of professionals across the design, health care, emergency management and regulatory agency spectrum. It also included international representation so that the guidelines are also applicable to countries outside the United States.
The guidelines are available to IAHSS members in the members-only section of its website. Non-members may request the guidelines for free until May 31, 2012, at this link.