’20 under 40’ winner: 'Technology allows us to do our work'
BOSTON—Hospitals are filled with security risks. “They’re unique. We deal with life and death situations. Tension runs high,” says Ralph Nerette, who is charged with mitigating those risks at the 13-building Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, here.
Technology is at the core of his job. “It’s an invaluable tool that allows us to do our work,” he said.
Patient safety, employee security, worker training in fire safety and workplace violence, maintaining regulatory compliance and establishing relationships with local law enforcement agencies are among his responsibilities.
Collaboration with local police stems from the threat of an active shooter incident at his hospital. “We’ve never had one, the incidences are very rare. The risk of that is low, but the effects are high. We make sure we prepare well with local law enforcement and train about responses to those type of incidents so that staff can be prepared,” he said.
His 50-person department oversees Dana-Farber’s locksmiths, the access control system, visitor management system, CCTV network and parking facilities, among other things.
"On a typical day I wear a lot of hats,” Nerette said.
When he started at Dana-Farber, many processes were paper-based, from the visitor management system to daily logs from security officers on down. Over the years, he and his team have deployed technology for an online visitor management system, incident reporting and daily activity reports. “It puts everything at our fingertips. A lot of what I do, I’m asked for data. And it’s technology that makes that happen.”
Managing growth with fewer resources is among his biggest challenges. “It’s the classic ‘do more with less’ in an environment that must be secure and transparent to patients, family and staff, he said, all while taking a “mindful, patient-centered approach.”
Integrating existing technology and maximizing its use is one of his long-term goals. “Many people have visitor management systems, but do they tie into the patient directory? We still have all these different systems doing different things,” he said.
He likened the integration issue to lessons learned from 9/11 when “people of different entities within government had different pieces of the puzzle.”
“That’s where this [security] industry is headed. Here’s this new way to skin a cat. We need build a bigger and better mousetrap,” he said.