End Users '20 under 40' 2014—Christopher Belden

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christopher Belden, 31

Director of security, Duke Regional Hospital, Durham, N.C.

Belden oversees the entire security department for the 256-bed hospital, including armed and unarmed security officers. He writes policies—risk assessments and security management plans—and works closely with cross-department hospital administrators on security issues, including technology.

What inspired you to get into the security industry?

I started in law enforcement through the Duke University Campus Police. I was introduced to something that was more than a job, it was a passion, a willingness to help people—total strangers—at a moment’s notice. I then had the opportunity to join ODS Security Solutions (which led to his job at the hospital). One of the greatest things about ODS is the leaders of the company, it’s like a big family. You never stop learning in this industry because our environment changes every day. It’s really unique.

If you could have any technology you wanted, without regard to budget, what would it be?

It would be a high-level personal identification system that acted in real time. In our industry, in health care facilities, we see hundreds of thousands of people a year. There are certain areas in health care facilities where you’ll find screening areas to minimize the risk of weapons, but it is unusual in my experience to see any form of true identification for every single person who walks through the front door. Visitor identification systems are a high cost but very effective tool in my opinion. I would have the highest-rated system out there that would identify a person by both fingerprint and facial recognition. This gives me the option to capture that data with something that is not going to change as much as a lost ID card or forgotten PIN number, and also lets me know 100 percent that this is not an unauthorized visitor. Using both methods of recognition would actually speed up the database search because it is more specific in the combination versus sorting out thousands of individual factors. It would help reduce and track authorized persons versus unauthorized and allow us to have a better and secure environment.

What’s your biggest physical security challenge today, and what do you think it will be five years from now?

Visitor management. Throughout the health care industry we want our visitors to feel welcome and to provide a very positive and friendly atmosphere while at the same time providing security. Lots of hospitals have (security) screening in the ERs but not at the front doors. To me, any visitor to a health care facility should not have to wonder if they are safe. They should be able to visit their loved ones and have nothing else on their minds. Through security, if there is an issue we want to know about it right away, respond and handle it without disrupting anyone’s visit or care. This, of course, is not always our reality. Through unfortunate events at other health care facilities we are able to better equip our facilities to minimize our risks through education and training, physical barriers and technology. Five years from now, we’ll still be doing battle with visitor management. That’s my challenge and also my passion.