Architects are designing new hospitals with healing, homelike environments and physical security measures built into the planning process, in accordance with new design guidelines developed by the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS). The guidelines were established to help security leaders, design professionals, and planning staff address security risks that have historically plagued healthcare facilities.

By addressing security risks in the initial planning phases, healthcare organizations can reduce costs, improve employee and patient satisfaction, and increase safety for patients and hospital staff. New hospital design calls for security plans specific to individual departments and based on identified risks including patient volume and community demographics.

RFID technology helps planners resolve hospital security design challenges

The IAHSS guidelines require security administrators to be involved in the planning and building phases of construction and renovation to consult on security design issues and measures.

Hospitals are using a variety of tools to solve everyday security issues, including radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology during the preconstruction and design phases. These tools help planners resolve challenges like staff communication barriers and parking lot security.

Visitor management controls

Planners are also tying in visitor management controls that accommodate liberal visitation policies that have been found to help patient recovery but increase traffic within the facility. In such public facilities with constant visitor traffic, one of the biggest challenges has been keeping patients, visitors, and staff safe from violent intruders.

Designers and security professionals are working together to incorporate security devices and equipment inconspicuously to avoid provoking anxiety. This is particularly challenging when it comes to emergency department design due to increasing numbers of psychiatric patients for whom the hospital may not be able to quickly find an inpatient psych bed.

The security-minded design guidelines include:|
•   A self-contained emergency department waiting area separated from the emergency department treatment area.
• .  Access control systems to monitor and limit visitors’ access to the emergency department (ED) treatment area and main hospital.
•   A room or area within the emergency department, separated from other patients for treating behavioral/mental health or other high-risk patients.
•   An ambulance entrance separate from walk-in entrances and waiting rooms.

Drawing on lessons from the past to design hospital security

Secure facilities are essential to patient care, By creating environments that promote safety and security, the industry is drawing on lessons from the past, most crucially those involving violence and theft.

Soothing, efficient and secure facility design incorporates both manual (guards) and technology-based entrance security developed to provide an open, welcoming environment without compromising protection.

A trip to the hospital, whether you’re a patient or a visitor, is a stressful event to begin with. No one should have to worry about their security in an environment intended to promote healing. No one should need to be worried about security issues.

By incorporating physical security into the design and construction planning process, hospitals are building in peace of mind in the process.

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