Getting Hospital Staff Involved In Keeping the Healthcare Community Safe

Author: Marilyn Hollier, MS, CHPA, CPP

Getting hospital staff to understand and perform their role in keeping the healthcare community safe, is critical to a healthcare security department successfully achieving the overall mission of maintaining a safe and secure environment.  There is no one program, service or recipe to achieve this.  A multifaceted approach must be taken.  Continuing to review/revise programs and services, measuring/evaluating for effectiveness, as well as continuing to develop new innovative programs and services is also key to gaining community support and involvement.  Security must become irreplaceable partners of the healthcare team.  This takes time to do but is very effective in establishing the value of hospital security.

The healthcare security director cannot do this alone and must lead by example.  The director should market, network and promote the value of security to senior leadership and the healthcare community.  S/he should hire educated and talented security staff.  S/he should motivate and challenge security staff to get involved and take ownership in developing and maintaining security services, programs and mission/vision.

The director should provide healthcare security specific training for their staff and encourage professional certifications and continuing education opportunities for the security leadership team as well as front line staff.   This will give your staff tools to help them be successful, enhance credibility and reduce liability.  This type of training is available through the International Association of healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS) professional training and certification programs.  This association also provides very valuable healthcare security and safety resources and industry guidelines. 

An organizational commitment must be taken to provide a multifaceted approach to gaining the community’s trust with hospital security and their understanding that they must report crime as well as early signs of disruptive/aggressive behavior.  Examples of such services and training are:

  • Security should have a dedicated portion of Hospitals’ New Employee Orientation.

  • Security should have a dedicated portion of the Hospitals’ annual mandatory competency training.

  • Security Academy (a security awareness training program for hospital staff)

  • HR sponsored supervisor training program should have a class on Workplace Violence (WPV) prevention and how to deal with disruptive patients, visitors and employees.

  • All front-line hospital staff that interact with customer should have some form of verbal de-escalation training.

  • Do a hospital wide celebration and events during Hospital Security week in October.

  • Security should host an internal website that has a dedicated page on WPV policies, procedures resources, training and videos.

  • Security sponsored newsletter.

The hospital security department should also continue to review and revise programs and services.  It is an ongoing effort to promote trust, improve perceptions/relationships and the timely reporting of crime and/or disruptive behavior.  Examples of such services are:

  • Implementing a Community Oriented Patrolling Program or Community Resource Officers.

  • Doing daily safety rounds with clinical staff.

  • Tracking and flagging potentially violent person(s).

  • Become involved with hospital leadership initiatives such as Patient and Family Centered Care (PFCC).

In conclusion, the hospital security team must learn to sometimes take risks, get involved, build relationships, and become a valued/trusted partner of the healthcare team.  Achieving this will reap big rewards such as enhanced resources, timely reporting of incidents and early identification and intervention with potentially disruptive/assaultive behavior. 

Ryan Magada