By Kelly Mortensen, CSI, CDT
Security is always a top priority in rural health facilities. And, while a close relationship with local and county emergency response services is a crucial first step, there are many ways security can be improved by the choices made in the design phase. When we design security features into our rural health facilities, we focus on three major areas:
- The facilities we design are oriented around a single, highly visible point of entry, with minimal, but clearly marked, exit doors.
- First floor windows are often covered with impact-resistant security film.
- Lighting fixtures are recessed.
- The heating and cooling system is placed on the roof behind locked enclosures, and exterior roof access is blocked, with interior access only permitted via keycard.
- The water supply can be cut-off at the point of entry into the building, in case of contamination and HVAC system controls are behind keycard access doors.
PATIENT & STAFF
- A key piece to rural facility security is the staff themselves, who may have to deal with violent patients or domestic violence issues. That means the staff need to feel protected, and the staff also need to be able to take the lead in implementing building security. Each staff member has a panic button on them, and each of the staff stations we design have lockdown buttons incorporated, which allow staff to lockdown their wing or even the entire facility.
- Patient security includes both privacy concerns and protection from potential harm. We design high-security exam and treatment rooms with features like a coiling door to close off outlets and instruments, recessed light fixtures and sprinkler heads, and no outside corners. We also ensure the implementation of a robust security camera system and badge-access doors to reduce risks of domestic violence and infant abduction incidents.
- Rural facilities often function with minimal staff, especially overnight, so we recommend the contracting of an independent security patrol, or the creation of an internal emergency response team who are trained to address security incidents.
- The security of both patient information and the systems used to keep the facilities operating are a crucial piece of security design.
- We ensure that servers and key pieces of the IT systems are behind multiple badge-access doors, as well as the generator systems used to keep IT up and running during periods of electrical interruption.
Also, while it is up to the client, DSGW frequently works with independent security consultants on projects. These consultants are hired by the client to directly address any specific needs or concerns on the project.
Finally, when designing security into health care facilities, our ultimate goal is to make it feel invisible. Seamless security design not only makes the space functional and safe, but also helps the patient or visitor feel relaxed and comfortable. The ideal space is one that is safe and secure while remaining beautiful, efficient and warm.