Around 1 o’clock in the morning in January, 2019, Carlie Beaudin, a nurse practitioner at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, entered the parking garage to head for home at the end of her shift.
She never made it home.
Found under her car frozen and bleeding at 3:43 that same morning, 33-year-old Beaudin died at the hospital just a short time later.
Co-workers, family, and community all mourned her loss, but the horrific murder shone a light on more than just a beautiful life tragically ended; it spotlighted the fear and uncertainty faced by so many late-night healthcare workers because of sparse security.
Healthcare professionals save lives every day. Though the job comes with long hours and stressful situations, concern over lack of security shouldn’t add to that stress. With a constant flow of patients, staff members, and visitors, security can be more of a challenge in healthcare environments, but it is a challenge well worth facing. Feeling safe and secure at healthcare facilities leads to a better reputation for the facility, peace of mind for staff and patients, and a healthier environment for all.
Safety Starts Outside
The murder of Carlie Beaudin in the parking garage, while not directly connected to any other crimes or deaths, is not an isolated incident. FBI statistics from 2017 paint a sobering picture: Parking lots and structures are the third most common sites for assaults and homicides in the United States, with the hour of midnight to 1 AM statistically serving as the most dangerous time of night.
There’s a reason for these numbers: Parking sites are notoriously difficult to secure, with multiple access points, expected regular traffic, and—during the night hours especially—few eyewitnesses to catch wrong-doing as it happens.
So, how can healthcare facilities effectively secure their parking sites and outer perimeters to assist with worker and patient safety?
Controlling all parking lot and structure access points is the first line of defense when it comes to outside security, with the goal of reducing unauthorized access and other security threats. These access points can be guarded by key cards, keypads, or actual security guards.
With hospitals and other healthcare facilities regularly fielding new patients and visitors, unmanned entrances work best for the lots used by regular healthcare employees.
Darkness is one of a criminal’s strongest allies since it’s harder to stop what we don’t see. Take away that ally by keeping lots and garages brightly lit at all hours of the night.
If possible, also look into graffiti-proof white concrete stain for the floor of parking lots and garages. The reflective nature of the white paint can aid in brightening the area.
Security Camera Systems (The More Obvious, The Better)
Business security camera systems provide the opportunity to monitor large areas simultaneously. Motion-detecting alerts enable better attentiveness to possible situations, particularly in the lower traffic, crime-prone hours of the night.
Wrong doers prefer their anonymity, making sites guarded by large, obvious cameras less appealing when it comes to potential targets.
As larger healthcare facilities like hospitals have some of their parking lots farther away, it can be difficult to connect with their business camera monitoring systems in place for the rest of their facility. Fortunately, LVT Units, which contain the security camera, the mount, the power source, and cellular connectivity, were designed for spaces with few resources.
LVT Units are large, obvious, and can easily integrate with existing systems, deterring trespassers and enabling security personnel to more effectively protect those in their care. The presence of an LVT Unit has been proven to decrease incidents by up to 70%.
In the case that an incident still occurs, security cameras are able to provide video evidence of wrong-doing, increasing the odds that the criminal will be caught.
With new patients, visitors, and regular staff rotation, healthcare facilities see people coming and going constantly, which, unfortunately, offers easier access for those looking to cause problems. Healthcare workers see a disproportionate amount of violence in the workplace, and medications and narcotics make for tempting targets.
Keeping the healthcare facilities safe and secure allows healthcare workers to focus on treating patients instead of watching out for incidents of theft or violence.
Similar to outdoor protection recommendations, the safety precautions taken indoors have an extra layer of complexity: patient confidentiality and sensitive information.
Access control in different areas of healthcare facilities provides a vital barrier between patients and staff and potential problems. These access control points look different depending on the location in the healthcare facility, ranging from keycard systems to camera and intercom systems to front admission desks.
Safeguards like access control are of particular importance in areas like the maternity ward to prevent infant abduction.
Able and ready to respond to incidents as they occur, security personnel provide immediate intervention when problems arise, protecting staff and patients alike. As with security cameras, their mere presence is often enough to deter wrongdoing.
Alarms are traditionally thought of as loud sirens that go off when an area is breached. During operating hours, however, alarms have the capacity for so much more, alerting staff to security breaches, zones that need to be contained, fires, and more.
While cameras in healthcare facilities must be carefully installed to comply with HIPAA and privacy concerns, security cameras monitor points of entry, waiting rooms, controlled substance storage, hallways, and more. These cameras are vital when it comes to situation monitoring and effectively deploying security personnel.
Security is the primary function of business camera monitoring systems, but it’s definitely not its only capability. According to the National Library of Medicine, hospital surveillance systems provide the following:
- Real-time monitoring
- Increased security and safety
- Improved staff productivity
- Prevention of dishonest claims
- Long-term digital archiving
All of the security procedures in the world won’t do an ounce of good if no one uses them. It’s vital to train employees of all levels on all security procedures and protocols so they know what they should do in the event of an incident, stopping the problem as effectively as possible.