Hospitals in transition
Security managers in some of Ontario’s biggest and busiest hospitals face complex challenges on a day-to-day basis, but for most, two stand out. One is managing an increase in patient population with aging infrastructure. The other is trying to keep pace with technology in a cash-strapped health-care environment.
By Jennifer Brown
Some are approaching or in the middle of long-overdue redevelopment
plans and are excited about the changes coming their way in terms of
new technology — better camera systems, patient tracking systems and
the ability to network video. Others are trying to get buy-in on major
projects such as dedicated servers for video or the integration of
fire, access control and CCTV to one system.
Compared to a few
years ago, the atmosphere is considerably more upbeat, despite
continued challenges around financing. Security often plays second to
demands for medical systems, but in the last few years, dollars have
been made available for expansion and with that comes the opportunity
to improve security.
Recently eight managers of security from some of Ontario’s largest hospitals sat down with Canadian Security
and Siemens Building Technologies to talk about the challenges they face and the questions
they have about implementing new systems in their facilities.
lot of us have new construction projects going on and renovations and
we’re trying to stress the point with the planning departments in our
hospitals who are responsible for new construction or major renovations
that they should call us for input on ways to improve security,” says Paul Greenwood,
manager of security and safety at St. Michael’s Hospital, a trauma
centre in Toronto’s city core with an ER that serves a clientele that
ranges from the homeless to Bay Street lawyers.
green-lit projects, security managers like Greenwood know from
experience that they also have to look further down the road to the potential costs
of these new systems. “We’re trying to encourage the planners to
run wire at the time of construction, not after when the patients are
already in there,” he says.
Then of course there is the issue of maintaining systems once they’re in place.
the one-year warranty is up I have to figure out how to pay for that
card access system or camera that gets broken. Often we don’t get
decent funding to fix what we already have,” he says.
recently purchased an infant protection/patient
wandering system. “We needed a new infant protection system, but
patient wandering is an even bigger issue for us because we spend a lot
of time looking for patients and wondering what they look like. What
I’d like to see is every patient that comes into the hospital have his
or her picture taken along with being issued their wristband. At least then if you leave the facility we don’t have to search our entire building
looking for you.”
Facility renewal is also happening at Women’s
College Hospital in Toronto. Noreen Jivraj is manager, security/fire
safety and parking services at Women’s College. She
arrived at the facility a year-and-a-half ago from Providence Health
Care, also in Toronto. Once known as “the baby hospital,” Women’s
College has undergone a branding transformation in an effort to be
known more as a centre of care for women’s health issues.
an exciting time at Women’s College. We’ve been demerged from
Sunnybrook since April of 2006 and we are now in the process of
realizing our vision of becoming a brand-new facility that really
focuses on women’s health,” says Jivraj.
The security technology
at Women’s College is somewhat antiquated — analogue systems that are
not currently riding on the network. Jivraj would like to see that
change to IP cameras. Moving video to the network is one of the biggest
challenges organizations face.
“It’s an old facility, and we’re
in the process of a redevelopment plan and we have the opportunity to
build in some new technology. We have upgraded some systems, but
bringing in new systems isn’t something we’re looking at besides
integrating some of our standalone systems,” she says.
redevelopment plans, Jivraj would like to create a monitoring control
centre where security staff will be able to control and respond to
systems “the way they should be responding to them,” she says. “I would
like to look at bringing in the fire alarm system, monitoring HVAC
systems and possibly looking at the access control systems. Right now
those systems are independent of each other.”
When it comes to
technology, John Bond is a strong believer of knowing what problem the
technology needs to address before saying yes to new cameras and
systems. Bond is manager of protection and fire services with the
Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Bond puts a lot of emphasis on
training his security personnel to be the eyes and ears of the
hospital, encouraging them to interact with those who come and go,
including the young patients so they feel comfortable.
hospital has just begun switching from 200 analogue cameras to IP video
cameras. The challenge, he says, is determining who is in charge of the
network — the IT or security department — when it comes to managing security’s applications.
it’s finished, I hope we have better quality, better positioned
cameras. I want to make sure we can get a good image from them; there’s
no point having cameras in the ceiling that everyone sees are there but
they don’t really do anything. We also want to make sure we have good
storage in place for video.”
Bond is philosophical about his approach to applying security technology.
no point buying the cheapest technology or the most expensive
technology or the shiniest technology if you have no use for any it.
The question has to be, ”˜are you going to get something out of it?’ You
have to have the big picture for your department and as an
organization,” he says. “Maybe a camera isn’t what you want; maybe it’s
your procedures you need to look at first.”
The concerns of the
health-care security managers at large hospitals are not unfamiliar to
security systems integrators like Siemens. Clients, they say, are no
longer looking for a product platform ”“ they want integrated systems
that work together and provide an end point of information they can
easily use and deliver information to related business units.
is really going through a metamorphosis right now in that all the
devices are moving to the network,” says Jason Baycroft, Director of
Security Solutions for Siemens Building Technologies in Toronto. “It
hasn’t moved as quickly as we thought it would, but from a design
perspective we’ve gone from most clients looking for a specific product
or vertical set, to looking holistically at what the entire platform is
because all of these devices are being tied to some sort of network
In a facility such as Brampton Civic Hospital,
where Siemens helped architect the security systems with Carillion,
everything that was mapped out on paper is now being put to the test
almost two years after opening.
Brampton’s director of security
and parking, Calvin Millar, has been at the hospital three months,
having arrived from Grand River Hospital in Kitchener, Ont. He has
found the hospital’s security systems to be “technology intensive.” He
says there have been challenges in providing training on the systems
for staff. In some cases, some of what was built into the hospital
plans has not been implemented yet.
“Some of the challenges are
getting people to use the system and the training around the systems so
we are using them to their potential. We have infant anti-abduction
systems and patient monitoring systems, but some aren’t implemented in
the clinical areas yet,” says Millar.
From the end-user
perspective introducing new technology is a challenge, says Ken Close,
manager, security and parking at Trillium Health Centre in Mississauga,
“We will be currently running two parallel systems until we
work out all the bugs and then our older system will be swapped out,”
The split between running security on the corporate
network versus security-only networks is about 70/30, says Baycroft —
70 per cent favour a campus environment versus 30 per cent, like Rouge
Valley Health’s Martin Green, prefer to have their own network.
just so paranoid that something is going to go wrong — if the hospital
servers go down, I’m blind. If their network is independent of ours,
there are no worries about bandwidth issues creating problems with
anything else in the hospital,” he says.
With additional technology, Green also has concerns that it places additional demand on his manpower resources.
don’t have the manpower to do what I’d like to do. If there is no one
there to response to 100 cameras then those cameras aren’t much good to
me. We have come really close to losing staff during other budget cuts.
We’re really lean.”
At University Health Network, which includes
Toronto General, Toronto Western and Princess Margaret Hospitals, Todd
Milne shares the same concerns. His department is trying to work with
the IT department to develop a security-only server.
“I need the
IT people to buy into supporting this. We’re all analogue now, but we
want to go all IP if we can get IT on board to develop a security-only
server. When IT does an update it crashes the server infrastructure.
They need to work on the back end systems first,” says Milne.
However, the majority of end-users seem to want to ride the campus architecture, says Baycroft.
question we’re hearing from many of our clients across many sectors is,
how do I take potentially proprietary or divergent technologies and fit
them into a network in a campus environment and create a solution set
out of that?” says Baycroft.
“From our perspective, what we’re
trying to understand is, what’s the network architecture, what’s the
highway? Once we understand the highway and what the underlying
infrastructure is, then we can create solutions for that vertical
Another question is, does that infrastructure support
video? Video is typically always bandwidth intensive and that has
created a concern from IT offices that video will have a direct impact
on their environment.
“There are pros and cons to each depending
on each organization’s set up,” says Baycroft. “From a security
perspective, it’s obviously much more straightforward if you have your
own infrastructure. But the problem is that IT has to support two
environments, so we think long-term it will be the campus environment.
The question is how do we educate the IT staff in an organization so
they truly understand and set up and properly manage an architecture
that can ultimately support video?”
“Security alarms usually go
to the security manager in most facilities and HVAC alarms tend to go
to someone in operations but we see the value in it all coming to one,”
says Joe Caranci. “As technology providers, we see the value of
Marcy Mundt is the manager, security, parking and
access control for the Kingston Hospitals, which consist of five
facilities run by three different organizations just starting to mesh
“Every single building has a different security
requirement and they are run by three different IT departments who
don’t play well together. We’ve gone to IP — it’s taken 18 months from
installing it to actually putting it on the system. Two of our sites
have never had any security whatsoever. If you wanted a key you handed
it to maintenance and got a copy.”
Kingston General houses the
central control centre, but with the other facilities now part of the
hospital group, that control centre is no longer big enough.
had Siemens come on board two years ago and we have all the access control
information, all the cameras and fire systems going to one control
centre and one person supervises and watches that all day. However, to
incorporate all these new facilities we have to expand that control
centre because there is too much coming in now. We have 80 cameras for
one building and 100 for another and not enough eyes to watch it all.”
Baycroft says finding the path to seamless technology integration comes down to educating end-users.
trying to spend more time with our security clientele and with the IT
staff in these organizations to educate them on what video looks like
in a distributed environment versus if you’re going to stream video
across a network and create a centralized environment.”