Canadian Security Magazine

Collaboration rules at Focus On Health Care Security

Neil Sutton   

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Some of the major challenges facing health-care security professionals — from workplace violence to disaster scenarios — may seem grim, but perseverance, collaboration and new approaches to old problems can pay dividends.

That was one of the major takeaways from Focus On Health Care Security, a one-day symposium, held Dec. 7 in Toronto, which was attended by more than 125 health-care security experts and affiliated professionals.
The day, divided into five seminar sessions and five case studies, began with a joint presentation from Clint Hodges, manager of protection services at Michael Garron Hospital and Erna Bujna, an occupational health and safety/workers’ compensation specialist with the Ontario Nurses Association. The two outlined how it’s possible to have an effective impact on violence in the workplace through collaboration and C-suite buy-in, and by addressing the problem in manageable pieces. Hodges explained that when he first took over security more than a dozen years ago, the hospital had only 29 security cameras with limited functionality. That number has grown to 380 today. “We didn’t get 350 more cameras overnight,” said Hodges. “Every year, bit by bit, we increased the number of cameras.”
The joint approach to mitigating workplace violence also stresses metrics and documentation, incident reporting and debriefing, continuous improvements to security training and third-party threat risk assessments.
Session two, delivered by Aidan West, manager of integrated risk services at North Bay Regional Health Centre, and Don Leschuk, vice-president of operations at Russell Security Services, outlined how a hospital and its security provider can work together effectively. Through partnership, the two have developed a patient watch program that emphasizes a risk-based approach. A key element is a significant investment in guard training that improves both risk identification and mitigation, leading to a reduction in the number of potential security incidents. “Hospitals need to recognize the investments they’re making in security,” said West. “If you’re improving the value-add of the service, then you need to invest.”
Dan Deck, director for protective and parking services for the North Zone of Alberta Health Services, was one of two speakers from out-of-province at Focus On Health Care Security. Deck was in the thick of the action during the Fort McMurray wildfire that occurred earlier this year, causing mayhem and destruction across northern parts of the province. Deck said a series of remarkable selfless acts made the disaster more bearable for some of those affected. He described instances of security and emergency staff who worked for days with little sleep or food and continued to help others even as their own homes burned.
Session four focused on newcomers to the security profession: recent graduates of PSI programs who are now employed in health-care environments. Charles Boshaw (G4S), Jermi Fernandez Garcia (Paladin Security), and Michael Jarvis (G4S), along with program instructors Sam Asselstine (G4S) and Brine Hamilton (Paladin Security), spoke about how their education prepared them for the “real world” and how the reality of the work met or differed from their expectations.
The day closed with a presentation on the Client Services Ambassador program from Jeff Young, executive director, Lower Mainland Integrated Protection Services, B.C. Young explained how the approach emphasizes “soft skills,” empathy, and a coordinated effort with the care team. The program, which was tested in some of the most challenging health-care environments in Vancouver, has resulted in a reduction in the number of potentially aggressive responses to patient treatment as well as an overall increase in staff perception of their own safety.
Focus On Health Care Security was supported by association partner IAHSS as well as by event sponsors G4S Canada, Resolver, Pivot3, Tech Systems, Stanley Security, Paladin Security and Winland Electronics.

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