A Healthy Dose of Security: A Generous Budget and a Free Hand Helped Security Experts at One Hospital Update Antiquated Systems and Add Modern Technology

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RARELY IS A SECURITY DIRECTOR given carte blanche and a generous budget, but that is exactly what Greenville Hospital System (GHS) of Greenville County, South Carolina, a not-for-profit academic health organization, handed Shawn I. Reilly, CPP, when he joined their security team on the eve of a massive facility expansion.

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The project is not yet complete, but what has been achieved thus far "has hopefully set the benchmark for hospital security in the southeastern United States," he says of the ongoing upgrades in existing buildings and installations in new ones.

GHS has five 80-to-200-acre campuses with multiple community hospitals (one recently renovated and one newly built and opened), a nursing home, newly completed assisted living housing, outpatient and wellness centers, and administrative and other buildings. Additionally, a second new hospital is under construction.

Hospital management was aware that security required extensive updating and expansion. "They took it seriously," Reilly states.

The security operation that he inherited was fulfilling its role at "the most basic level," he says. The contract security officers were heavily relied on yet poorly paid, and the existing CCTV technology was "old Pelco analog cameras and VCRs that covered only a few places--about 15 to 20 cameras spread over millions of square feet of buildings."

While the Software House C-Cure access control system was large, with more than 100 readers, it was maintained by the engineering department, whose staffers were minimally trained and overburdened. The system disarray included memory chips on the controllers that were completely full, meaning no new users could be added.

Updating antiquated systems and adding modern technology--including new Pelco IP (Internet-based) surveillance cameras and digital recording, as well as proximity readers and biometric access controls from Software House--were on the agenda. It would be important to prioritize what needed to be done and get the right people to do the work.

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Reilly had a security consultancy work with him on design, but he didn't want them to be involved in the installation, because that would conflict with their first job--objective consultation.

After getting RFPs from five companies, Reilly eventually selected Tech Systems, Inc., of Duluth, Georgia, which it turned out was already present on the main GHS campus, albeit confined to a service contract with the information systems department. Reilly liked the fact that Scott Welborn, CPP, business development manager for Tech Systems, was a Certified Protection Professional[R] (CPP), as were all of Tech System's business development employees and most account representatives.

"From the summer of 2006, we've done no less than 15 projects--some of major size," Welborn states. The initial security project involved updating the existing C-Cure access control system to its most modern proximity card version, adding hundreds of new readers, and rebadging the entire GHS employee, volunteer, and contracting population of about 14,000 during a period of several months from a designated location in the IT building set up for this purpose. …