By Ben Scaglione, CPP, CHPA, CHSP
With vaccine distribution ramping up, normal societal activities are in sight. When normal returns, what will hospital security look like? Will staff increases implemented back in March and April of 2020 stay or be eliminated? Will entrances that were locked reopen? Will temperature checks remain a standard in the industry? What will happen to visiting hours, will they go back to normal or continue to be restricted? What will the New Normal be for the security of our institutions?
These are just a few of the questions to be considered come May and June. Although “Normal” may not truly transpire until October or November the discussion on future processes should be considered during this transitional period. Turning on or off security practices implemented during Covid-19 should not be conducted at the last minute, it should be an organized, planned process.
I think one of the main considerations for many hospitals as we progress into the New Normal is visitor management. For many hospitals that had no restrictions prior to Covid, now have to assess the use of visitor management post-Covid. Will patient-centered care continue? Will hospitals continue to restrict visitors or go back to unlimited/unrestricted visitation.
Will hospitals close alternate entry points or continue to post security officers to screen persons entering the buildings. Many hospitals, pre-Covid-19, allowed access into hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices and outpatient services unrestricted. These services were closed at the onslaught of Covid-19 and have since reopened with a security or hospital staff screening patrons for access and temperature. Many hospitals are utilizing contract guard services to provide these functions. Will contracted security services for these services continue or will they revert to pre-Covid levels? Or will they be converted to in-house security services?
Will temperature screening continue? Will it disappear completely, or will it return only during Flu season. Will hospitals that have non-security staff taking temperatures still use the same staff after Covid or will this function be the New Normal for security services. How will lobbies and entry points physically change if this process becomes the New Normal. Will hospital lobby structures change to restrict access and funnel visitors, patients and staff differently?
Lastly, how will access control change going forward. The shift to using personal cell phones has started as an access credential. Will this process be accelerated along with the demise of push paddle for automatic door openers? Will fingerprint and other biometrics that require the touching of a surface disappear from the security environment?
All these questions should be considered in the evaluation of the New Normal and this process should start soon so that proper planning can occur.
This blog was posted on THE SECURE HOSPITAL: The Healthcare Security Site on March 4, 2021. You can access the site at: securehospital.net. If you would like to contact the author, Ben Scaglione, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.