As we enter 2021 and round out a year of responding to the challenges of the coronavirus, security professionals continue to demonstrate the value of comprehensive security services in hospitals. We recognize that hospitals and health systems are being tasked with controlling costs and cutting budgets while maintaining the highest levels of patient care, safety and privacy. These facts heighten our awareness of the new role played by security services in this ever-evolving healthcare landscape.
The pandemic compelled hospitals to increase safety and security measures. New safety and security protocols were established at hospitals in order to accurately adhere to CDC guidelines to keep staff and patients safer. The role of the security professional has also been redefined and prioritized to support more patient care related activities.
In an effort to remain on the forefront prior to and during a disaster, it is important that healthcare security leaders stay up-to-date on healthcare security publications, attend educational programs, participate as active members in industry associations such as the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS), ASIS International, and so on. At Allied Universal, we are a part of these important groups, we continue to stay connected, and our Healthcare team are kept up to date on the most recent events and developments so we can pass those down to our clients at any time. Our client relationship is of the upmost importance to us, and we have been with our clients ever step of the way during the pandemic.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the IAHSS Guidelines Council updated and released the “Highly Infectious Communicable Disease Response” document which outlined additional, essential security services with mitigation strategies to address the planned changes in protocol due to the pandemic. This guideline was made available for all IAHSS members such as Allied Universal.
To support the need for transitions to new vaccine procedures and protocols, a group of approximately twenty ASIS International Healthcare Security Community Leaders from various hospitals and health systems in the US worked to develop two documents that assisted with the coronavirus vaccine security, storage and distribution. A storage plan was provided along with storage requirements specific to the vaccines currently approved by the FDA as well as a call for hospitals to update security plans to include steps in keeping the vaccine safe. An assessment document recommended that potential risks were to be considered at every step of receiving, storing, tracking, and distributing the vaccine before it even reached the facility. These two documents were made available for all ASIS members.
Security continues to be more essential than ever in the chaotic, uncertain healthcare world created by the coronavirus. There are new threats for patients and healthcare workers within the walls of a hospital. The pandemic has taught us several lessons when it comes to hospital safety and security. For example, it is critical for hospitals to develop mutual aid relationships, consider contracts for emergency security staffing during disasters, and establish appropriate/regulatory “Just-in-Time” training modules for various disaster scenarios. Additionally, hospitals should preplan and develop contracts for PPE and other equipment that security may need during a disaster. The security leader provides an excellent partner to the hospital Emergency Manager in developing a robust “All Hazards Emergency Operations Plan.”
And remember, it is crucial to take care of the physical and mental health of the team. A strong team creates a dependable foundation for an environment that is prepared for the evolving challenges faced by security.
About the Author: Lisa Terry, CHPA, CPP is Vice President of Vertical Markets-Healthcare at Allied Universal, a leading security and facility services company. Additional information is available at www.aus.com or you can contact Lisa directly at Lisa.Terry@aus.com