By: Dave Warning, Project Manager
Staff and patient safety have become an important part of healthcare facility design discussions—both for new construction and the renovation of existing facilities. It’s a common misunderstanding that security equates to adding more doors and barriers and locking everything down. The better approach is to be intentional in your design and find ways to improve security while maintaining the warm and welcoming aesthetic of modern healthcare facilities.
Mortenson recently worked with a healthcare client to implement design and security upgrades across a wide system of hospitals and clinics. Installing thousands of security devices across the locations proved challenging. But having the right strategy helped the team meet the customer’s security needs while maintaining the welcoming staff and patient environment they’ve worked so hard to create.
The information below will help you know what to expect while planning for security upgrades and understand important factors to consider when working with your design team and construction partner.
Identifying and Analyzing Potential Security Risks
The first step in healthcare security upgrades is identifying potential risks. With so many variables to consider, it’s recommended to engage a third-party security assessment company. Their teams take a “big picture” approach to facility evaluation and can help you pinpoint potential risks that might otherwise go unidentified. The analysis process looks different based on the facility type and location; however, you should consider these factors in each assessment.
- Population Density: Security incidents can happen anywhere, but urban areas often carry a higher risk than rural areas.
- Patient Volume: Emergency rooms and urgent care facilities have a higher patient volume and therefore introduce more security risks than clinics and smaller facilities.
- Facility Type: Security needs vary widely based on the facility type. Hospitals, for example, typically have on-site security staff to monitor entrances and respond to incidents. Whereas standalone clinics and urgent care facilities are less likely to have on-site security.
- Visibility and Communications: What equipment and procedures currently exist—or what is lacking—to facilitate communication and ensure prompt reaction in the event of a security threat
- Staff Training and Awareness: Have staff received training on current security protocols? How much awareness do they have regarding potential threats?
- Code Restrictions: Local and state regulations, particularly for egress, dictate building design changes.
- Operational Workflow: How staff, patients, and visitors use and move throughout each space determines the equipment and level of security needed in that area.
Prioritizing and Implementing Security Improvements
Security assessment teams collaborate with healthcare facility design and construction partners to help prioritize and effectively execute your security upgrades. Since lobby and reception areas often serve as the main entry point of a facility, the priority should be separating these public spaces from patient care areas.
Dave Warning is a project manager focusing on healthcare construction. His 12 years of construction experience includes retail and hospitality, sports and entertainment, security initiatives, imaging suites, surgical and sterile processing, and clinic renovation projects. Dave has a B.S. in Construction Engineering from Iowa State University.