SIA, IAHSS promote stronger hospital security

Saturday, March 1, 2008

WASHINGTON--Developing stronger security plans, and increasing budgets and safety are the driving forces behind the Securing America's Hospitals Act, a legislative proposal that the Security Industry Association and the International Association of Health Care Security & Safety are currently creating.
The proposal would authorize $500 million in federal grant funds during the next five years for hospitals to acquire access control, video surveillance solutions and other electronic security technologies.
The money would boost security for healthcare facilities, which have been categorized as one of the nation's 17 critical infrastructures by the Department of Homeland Security.
Tony York, president of IAHSS and senior vice president for Hospital Shared Services, said these facilities are underfunded in comparison to other critical industries such as chemical sites or transit systems.
"The consciousness of security was awoken after the significant events of 9/11 and there have been a lot of federal resources dedicated to other industries," York said.
"When you think about healthcare, it is being accessed by nearly one billion people per day and the healthcare industry is not responding to its security needs."
York said hospitals, especially community hospitals, have inadequate security budgets because senior executives still do not understand the importance the department plays in developing business value.
The proposed federal funding would provide hospitals with the opportunity to invest in technologies to mitigate risks such as terror attacks, gang violence and biological scares, he said.
"That was important when we were giving SIA our input," York said. "We didn't want the language to be restrictive because a small community hospital might not be facing the same risks that a large urban facility would face.
Their technology needs might be different and we wanted them to be able to invest in the technologies that would help them."
More than 5,000 profit and non-profit hospitals would be eligible to apply for the funds that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would administer.
"Regardless of bed size, all hospitals and healthcare facilities are eligible," said Don Erickson, director of government relations with SIA. "We want to make sure that as many hospitals as possible can participate."
Erickson said he hoped the act would be passed by spring. It is currently in draft proposal and must have Congress's approval.
SIA chose to propose the legislation after its government relationships committee of manufacturers and integrators met and identified healthcare as a market that could benefit its organization because it provide multiple business opportunities if hospitals install technology.