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.

Public Safety Officers Spend Less Time in ED

<p>The new patrol vehicles purchased by Saratoga Hospital enable officers to respond more quickly to off-site incidents.</p>Some of the most significant changes, however, were in the ED.

“Upon him joining Saratoga Hospital, over 60% of every public safety shift was spent in the ED performing watches,” says Herrick. “This caused tension between public safety, the ED staff and other departments who felt ignored due to the amount of time public safety spent in the ED.”

According to Kevin Ronayne, who is the hospital’s vice president of operations and facilities, some of those cases didn’t require a one-on-one presence.

“[DiNovo] worked very closely with the staff in our ED, nurses and physicians to reduce the presence of public safety while at the same time demonstrating that not having someone standing there had a better impact on the patient,” he says. “Sometimes seeing someone standing guard causes patients to react negatively.”

Indeed, the before-and-after statistics are quite telling. Prior to the reduction of ED public safety observation hours, the number of public safety codes for agitated individuals in the ED was 25. Now, the number is less than 10.

Because public safety is no longer spending so much time in the ED, they are free to patrol, train, provide safety escorts,  and document and resolve security issues.

Part of the decrease in codes could also be attributed to the design of the new ED, which is much larger than the old one and is painted in soothing colors. Additionally, the layout of it is such that even if the ED is completely full, patients and visitors don’t notice.

“That’s a good thing because if you walk into an atmosphere that you think is charged, that has an ef
fect on you,” DiNovo says.

“Access to the new ED is closely monitored as the public safety office is now located immediately inside the ED,” he adds. “Visitor passes are required, and aside from perimeter access control, the staff can also compartmentalize key areas by pushing a button, or public safety can do it remotely via software. Staff also have access to panic alarms that can be worn as a wristwatch or a pendant, plus there is a dedicated space for those who present with behavioral issues.”

Numbers Don’t Lie: Rate of Incidents Has Decreased

Besides the reduction in the number of agitated patients, other metrics indicate that DiNovo’s efforts are paying off.  Critical open doors are 11% less than last year, larcenies have gone down by 80%, damage to property is 80% less and 99% of hospital staff can describe the steps they should take to eliminate, minimize or respond in the event of a physical risk.

DiNovo also stresses the importance of an appropriate appearance at work. He wears a suit and tie every day. Officers must now wear uniforms, and public safety’s vehicles are properly marked.

“When you show up to a call,” he says, “if you look like you are able to handle that call, if your uniform is clean and neat, if you are fit and carry yourself properly, that goes a long way towards diffusing situations.”


Sharing CAD System Reduces Response Times, Costs<p>Here, DiNovo (front row, second from right) is pictured with his department.</p>

Before joining Saratoga Hospital, John DiNovo was the commanding officer of administrative services for the Albany Police Department where he helped develop the IT and computer aided dispatch (CAD) system that is currently deployed by the agency. Upon installation, the CAD and RMS system was immediately popular because it reduced police response times, says Jeffrey Cunningham, who recently retired as Albany PD’s director of communications.

“This was so remarkable that the fire dispatch was added just as soon as the police dispatch was completed,” he says. “When other departments in the area noticed our success, they wanted to purchase the same system. However, once they learned the cost of the system, they realized it was beyond anything their budgets could withstand.”

Fortunately, DiNovo realized that if the system were shared with neighbors, the costs could be reduced and police data could be shared in real time. Additionally, it would serve as a back-up dispatch system for the participants. In other words, if one dispatch center failed, other dispatch centers could pick up the slack.

Eventually, all of the police and fire department dispatch centers were added to the CAD system. After retiring from the Albany PD, DiNovo was hired by the company that made the system, and he set up a model where police and fire CAD services for all of the agencies within two neighboring counties could share data in real time.

Now his goal is to apply this same approach to the hospital setting.

“I would like to implement a CAD system of sorts that could be used by many departments to track in real time the delivery of services,” he says. “We interact with a lot of departments, and quantifying the supply and demand of our respective efforts could shed light so we could better manage our approaches.”

About the Author

Robin Hattersley Gray
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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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