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Some health care facilities are finding that video cameras inside and outside the facility are allowing them to reduce crime and maintain security staffing even as the facility grows.
CoxHealth in Springfield, MO, has installed more than 100 network cameras from Axis Communications (www.axis.com) at its hospital and parking garages. The cameras were installed in exterior areas, interior entries, exits, facilities areas, waiting areas, and at medication dispensaries. The cameras are monitored live by security staff.
In several cases, the cameras have helped prevent crimes or caught a criminal after an incident occurred, according to Joe Rushing, director of public safety and security. As examples, Rushing lists car break-ins, thefts of patient items within the facility, narcotic thefts, and internal thefts of employees. "The cameras help us maintain safety for staff, visitors, and patients," he says.
The cameras helped recover a set of wedding rings that a patient thought was stolen, Rushing says. "With the help of cameras, we determined that a family member had taken them home and forgot to tell other family members," he says.
The cameras would be particularly useful in a crisis situation where a large amount of square footage had to be monitored, says Matt Lackrone, president at Netwatch (www.Netwatchip.com), a camera vendor in Springfield, which installed the cameras.
The cameras proved helpful in a recent situation at the ambulatory surgery center building when some equipment was damaged. "The cameras were able to tell us what happened," Lackrone says. The video footage indicated who was in the equipment room and when they were there, he says. "We were able to put the pieces of the puzzle back together," Lackrone says. The conclusion was that an outside contractor had inadvertently damaged the equipment, and that contractor took responsibility for the damage, he says. "Without the cameras, it would have been impossible to know what happened and why the equipment went down," Lackrone says.
The cameras have an additional advantage in that they help the hospital track the need for additional parking by employees and visitors, he says.
Rushing says, "We've used [the cameras] not daily, but hourly, for a lot of uses." For example, the health system has been able to maintain the same size security staff, even as they have added several thousand more square feet to the facility.
The films are not on the internet or the in-house intranet, he says. "We have our own servers in our area that are secured," Rushing says. Signs posted near external doors alert those entering that they might be videotaped.
When adding a camera system, research your vendor by performing a thorough background check, Rushing advises. "Find a vendor that is reputable and that you can allow into your organization," he says. The vendors will have access to sensitive areas of your facility, Rushing points out, so you must have a trusting relationship. "Once you have that, you can work together for a good outcome," he says.