Bridgeport Hospital's O'Donnell and staff provide a safe, secure environment
Bridgeport Hospital's O'Donnell and staff provide a safe, secure environment

Jun 1, 1998 12:00 PM

Security mission: To protect against urban threats at the 450-bed hospital in Connecticut. Located in the middle of one of the largest urban areas in Connecticut, Bridgeport Hospital was established in 1878 by a group of community leaders, including showman and entrepreneur P.T. Barnum of Barnum and Bailey Circus fame. Accredited with Commendation by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), the 425-bed hospital employs 2,000 people, including 400 active attending physicians, 90 medical/surgical residents and more than 1,000 volunteers. Bridgeport Hospital also includes a School of Nursing that currently has 140 enrolled students. The hospital and its affiliates annually provide approximately 400,000 patient-care visits, including 19,000 admissions, 55,000 emergency department visits, 30,000 clinic visits, 36,000 private referral testing visits and 10,000 outpatient rehabilitation visits. Security and safety issues here are the domain of Tom O'Donnell, manager of security and telecommunications. "Our mission is to provide a safe, secure environment, which will allow hospital departments providing professional services and programs to effectively support Bridgeport Hospital's mission," says O'Donnell, who has been with the hospital for almost 14 years. Prior to coming on board, he was director of safety and security at Meriden/ Wallingford Hospital, also in Connecticut. Prior to that post, he was a patrol officer and bomb technician for the New Haven, Conn., police department. While on the force, he was a coordinator for the 1980 Presidential political campaign, coordinating protection between the New Haven police department and federal agencies. At Bridgeport Hospital, O'Donnell is responsible for three buildings on the main campus, the former Park City Hospital across town, and all indoor and outdoor parking facilities, including the hospital's heliport. He is also responsible for monitoring the fire system. A total of 36 CCTV cameras are used in the six-floor parking garage. Two cameras with pan/tilt/zoom capabilities are located on each level and in each garage elevator lobby. Cameras include models made by Sanyo, Sony, Panasonic, Elmo as well as Pelco intercept domes. A total of 96 cameras are strategically placed throughout the hospital campus. Covert cameras are used in the emergency room's "quiet" facility, which is used for patients requiring restraint or close supervision because they could be a threat to themselves or others. The covert cameras were custom-built by Advanced Security Technology, Stratford, Conn., the vendor that designed and installed the entire security system, which also includes an Infographics MP 32-64 system with full distributor processing. Distributor processing allows for the card access system to operate in the event that communication with the host computer is lost. Once communication is restored, the information stored in the remote processors is up-loaded to the host computer. The proximity card system is also linked to the Goddard ID badging system, which is used to create a badge, then upload the information into the Infographics system. The ID card is used for access into major building interior and exterior entrances, interior passageways, the cashier's office, and to open gates in the employee garage.

Parking lot security The Agnes and Ernie Kulbach Parking Pavilion is controlled by a MonoCard system that dispenses a ticket when a car enters. Before a person leaves the hospital, they pay for parking in the main lobby. Their ticket is then validated and the person inserts it into the exit card reader when leaving. The gate opens, and the ticket remains in the exit card reader. The parking pavilion also employs a Code Blue alarm system. There are two units on each floor, and phone boxes incorporating panic buttons in the stairwell. When a button is depressed, the control room immediately receives an alarm signal and the Code Blue strobe goes off, indicating that someone needs help. The CCTV camera that is closest to the box that reported the incident automatically focuses on the area and a picture instantly appears on the control room's main monitor. Each staircase also incorporates a sound monitoring capability that activates an alarm when sound reaches a particular decibel level. The control room houses a Pelco multiplexer, an integrated matrix controller switcher and 9-inch Panasonic TR 990C and Sony monitors. The call-up monitor is a 15-inch Sony. An Aiphone intercom system is also part of the operation.

Currently, the security operation is installing a redundant CCTV system with card access control and delayed-egress alarm in the labor, delivery and newborn nursery, along with adjoining halls. "It doesn't matter in which direction a person walks within the maternity unit, he or she will be picked up, full frontal view, by the CCTV system. This capability will help minimize any possibility of child abduction," explains O'Donnell. According to O'Donnell, any unauthorized activity within the unit will be enunciated instantly in the control room and at the nurse's station, which has video viewing and recording capabilities. Main hospital building elevators include key-bypass capabilities that allow the security staff to commandeer an elevator in the event of a security or other type of emergency. Bridgeport Hospital also includes a police officer sector terminal (P.O.S.T. ) located within the emergency room. A Bridgeport Police officer can use it to communicate with headquarters, write reports and do police investigations from the sector terminal room. The P.O.S.T. can also be used by the community to contact police. "It gives us a police presence in the ER, and provides us with immediate police response capabilities if needed. To the Bridgeport police, it's a convenience to help them do their job better within the neighborhood," explains O'Donnell. The security guard force consists of 35 contract officers that are trained by the contract guard provider. They receive training in first aid, CPR, customer service, patient restraint, crisis intervention, emergency preparedness, patient confidentiality, blood-born pathogens and hospital disaster plans. Four times each year, they must take on-site refresher training courses. Officers patrol the interior and exterior of the hospital 24 hours a day. A recent incident attests to the swiftness of the security system and the security staff. An alarm was received in the control room from Elizabeth Oliver Hall, one of the buildings on campus. Officers responded in seconds and apprehended a perpetrator attempting to exit one of the building's lower level windows with a computer. The security staff has also been instrumental in aiding the community. Not too long ago, one of the officers noticed smoke coming from a nearby house, rushed in, and saved a woman's life.

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