As 2019 comes to a close, it’s time to take another look at the work PPMC’s security task force has been doing over the last year to create a safe and comfortable environment for everyone who walks through the hospital doors — as well as what’s coming next.
“We’re focused on the journey, not the destination,” said Margorie Michele, MPA, PhD, chief Human Resources officer, and co-leader of the task force with Bob Russell, MS, associate executive director for Operations. “When it comes to security, you can’t just flip a switch — there will always be new challenges to address. But by listening and responding to the needs of our staff and prioritizing safety, we can prevent violence and promote the well-being of our employees and the patients we serve.”
Introducing Innovative Tech Solutions
In October, a new policy was implemented designating normal visiting hours as 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. Between those times, one support person may stay with the patient, and exceptions can be made for emergency arrivals and patients in critical condition. To support this change, a variety of technological solutions will be introduced in the coming months. Custom-made doors with locking mechanisms will be installed in the Cupp and Medical Office Building entrances to better control access, for example.
Nighttime visitors are currently screened with hand-held metal detectors, but in the future, they will have a mobile unit and also begin checking in via a new visitor control system that tracks who is in the building and the duration of their stay. This system is currently being piloted at Chester County Hospital, and PPMC will be the next location to go live.
Preparing and Training Staff
A number of new staff members have been brought on board to increase security, including second- and third-shift supervisors in the ED and a bike officer who patrols the campus and escorts visitors between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. Staff have also been invited to participate in de-escalation training from the Crisis Prevention Institute. Though violence poses an issue in hospitals nationwide, no employee should feel like abuse is part of their job. This training teaches employees to recognize the warning signs of a potential crisis, strategically manage aggressive patients and family members, and utilize personal safety techniques.
PPMC leaders are also regularly sharing information about proposed legislation for health care worker protections so staff can contact their representatives. All of these efforts aim to keep PPMC’s team safe, prepared, and empowered.
Cultivating a Collaborative Spirit
Collaboration has been key to each of these security initiatives. Not only is the task force comprised of staff from a wide variety of departments, but the recommendations of individuals across the health system and university have all played a part in developing Presby’s safety goals. Twice a month, Michele and Russell meet with CEO Michele Volpe, the hospital’s security team, Maureen Rush, MS, CPP, vice president for Public Safety at the University of Pennsylvania, and Penn Police to discuss the integration of these security teams.
The hospital also recently participated in a nationwide workplace violence survey. The results of this research survey will give PPMC a glimpse of what changes have proven successful at other health systems, as well as the chance to share our own strategies with hospitals both in and outside of Penn Medicine.