Hospital leaders to integrators: Learn our unique challenges

TechSec panelists seek proactive information, follow-up
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Friday, January 31, 2014

DELRAY BEACH, Fla.—Health care facilities have unique security needs and integrators who want those facilities’ business would be more successful if they learned what their needs are, according to hospital security directors at TechSec Solutions, held here this week. 

A common theme at the Jan. 28-29 conference was the need for better communication between integrators and end users, and participants on the “Hospital Security: Checkup on Technology and Innovation” panel were clear in their support of that sentiment.

The panel discussion was moderated by Shawn Reilly, who has insight on the challenges for security directors and integrators alike. He currently serves as director of health care security training and risk evaluation for Atlanta-based security integration firm Tech Systems. However, he came to this role after a career as a security professional. Most recently he was the chief of police and director of security for the Greenville Health System.

Integrators need to be “trained for us,” said panelist Ralph Nerette, manager of security for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and a “20 under 40” award recipient for Security Director News, a sister publication of Security Systems News.

“They need an awareness of our environment,” Nerette said. “We have clean areas, radiologicals. Don’t cold-call me and say we can help you and then when I say, ‘Well, here’s one of my challenges,’ you say, ‘OK, so how many doors and card readers do you have?’”

Hospital budgets are always tight, the panelists said.

“Money is very limited. We need to make the best decision we can and we count on the integrator to help us make that decision,” said Keith McGlen, director of security services at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C. “We can’t go back [to the C-suite] six months later and say we need a new product.”

“Give us updates when things are coming about that,” said Randy Propps, director of security and emergency management for McLeod Regional Medical Center in Florence, S.C. “What products and updates are coming along that could help us with our security? Tell me the good, as well as the bad, and stay in contact. I don’t want you to tell me this is the best thing since sliced bread. Who’s using it so I can go visit it?”

Rose Miller, director of protective services for MedStar Washington Hospital Center, would like integrators to understand her budget resource cycle. She’d also like them to come back after an installation and make sure it was “done right the first time.”

In addition to their challenges with integrators, the panelists cited other security needs they would like to see addressed, including being able to bring all systems onto one platform and portable surveillance cameras to use during construction projects, for example.