Hospital Director of the Year Makes the Business Case for Public Safety
Congratulations to Saratoga Hospital Director of Public Safety John DiNovo for winning the Campus Safety Director of the Year, Healthcare award. By documenting the services provided by his officers, he was able to upgrade his institution’s security technology, revamp his department and improve security in his hospital’s emergency room.
Increasing the number of public safety department officers from 12 to 20, growing the number of cameras deployed from five to nearly 200 and installing proximity access control readers on 140 doors throughout a healthcare organization is no easy feat, particularly during tough economic times. Despite this, Saratoga Hospital Director of Public Safety John DiNovo has been able to achieve all of this and much more. His institution has been designated by the State of New York Division of Criminal Justice Services as a security guard training school. Officer uniforms and vehicles have been upgraded, as have the hospital’s relationships with local law enforcement. Photo IDs, call boxes and an incident reporting system are other improvements that have been implemented.
The sheer volume and quality of his achievements are what persuaded this year’s judges to designate DiNovo as the healthcare sector’s director of the year.
Accurate Count of Activities Justifies Need for Upgrades
So how did he get the equipment and officers that he wanted? His secret was and still is documentation.
“I started documenting what we did, what was the nature of the call and what was the outcome of everything,” he says. “[Prior to my arrival], the hospital was OK with the staff we had because the previous administration was told not much was going on; everything was fine. Well, everything wasn’t fine.”
Using spreadsheets and graphs, he provided descriptions and accurate counts of his department’s activities, such as when his officers unlocked doors, watched patients and investigated claims of lost or stolen property. As a result, DiNovo had the evidence he needed to address hospital executives’ concerns that they could not afford additional staff and improved security systems, such as video surveillance.
“I spoke business with the then-president and said, ‘I don’t think you can afford not to do it,’” says DiNovo. “‘You have only one incident of someone falling down, and you have a potential lawsuit. Or, God forbid, someone gets assaulted at one of our locations.’ If you state your case with proven facts and offer options for solutions, executives are more likely to take action.”
In-House Training Prepares Officers for Hospital Calls
The results of his approach are truly impressive.
“He has increased his full time employee complement by approximately 75%,” says Saratoga Hospital Public Safety Coordinator Taylor Herrick. “In doing so, he has increased conspicuous patrols throughout the hospital and off-site [locations].”
Training was a big part of his department’s turnaround, and having Saratoga Hospital designated as a security guard training school provided several advantages.
“My mantra is ‘The single tool you bring to every call is your training,’” DiNovo claims. “By conducting in-house training, I am assured that we are delivering the type of safety and security that is needed in a healthcare setting, which has its unique nuances.”
All of his department’s public safety officers have completed the 40-hour NYS Office of Homeland Security Enhanced Security Guard Training Program. Public safety officers as well as hospital leadership and ED personnel have received NIMS training. DiNovo is also encouraging his security officers to take the basic, advanced and supervisor levels of International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS) courses.
Additional Vehicles Improve Officer Response Times
The increase in security technology deployed at the hospital is impressive as well. When DiNovo started at Saratoga, the facility only had five cameras that recorded to a VCR, two key rings, analog radios and a few panic alarms. Additionally, reports were handwritten.
Now, the hospital has proximity and smart cards as well as biometric devices for access control, nearly 200 cameras for video surveillance, 15 call boxes, a new digital radio system, ID cards and template-driven standardized reports with spreadsheets and databases. Intrusion/panic alarm systems were installed or upgraded at all off-site patient care buildings.
Two motorized vehicles were added to a fleet that previously consisted of one golf cart. The new vehicles shortened officer response times to off-site incidents. Also, facility lockdown and active shooter policies were established, as were more than 100 standard operating procedures for the public safety department.