PinnacleHealth Safeguards Hospitals With IP-Based Solutions

This Pennsylvania healthcare organization worked closely with its security integrator to create a multi-layered security solution that protects patients, clinicians, employees and visitors.

Security has long been of strategic importance at PinnacleHealth in Harrisburg, Pa., and as security technology has expanded, PinnacleHealth officials have embraced it. The hospital’s public safety efforts have evolved significantly since 1980 when David Falgoust, PinnacleHealth’s director of security services, joined the organization as a security officer.

“At the time, there was one video surveillance camera and a VCR in the hospital’s library,” he says. “Today, there are more than 270 IP-based cameras in the three hospital sites and the Fredericksen outpatient site. While cost is always important, there has never been any resistance from hospital administration to what we want to do with security. The leadership and organization are dedicated to the safety of each person who receives treatment, visits or works here.”

That being said, the decision to move forward with IP-based video and access control systems was perhaps a little risky more than four years ago. Even today, when less than a quarter of U.S. security systems are purely digital, there is risk involved. But, Falgoust says, the decision to go IP has proven to be a good one.

“I can view all video and alarms from the four sites from my office,” he says. “That helps me keep track of things and make decisions when events occur.”

The Difference Between IP and Analog is Clear
One incident that happened shortly after the transition to the IP-based video system helped validate the decision to make the switch.

A robber held up an ATM user in a medical/administrative building that is part of the main hospital complex. The grainy black-and-white photos produced by the ATM’s analog cameras were of no help to police. But as the robber left the building, IP cameras in an adjacent hallway provided a clear image that gave the authorities enough information to identify and arrest a suspect. As Falgoust describes it, the police were impressed by the clarity of the video PinnacleHealth provided them.

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One of the forces behind the adoption of IP was Pinnacle’s security systems integrator, ADT Security Services. Falgoust says Pinnacle has maintained a long-term partnership with ADT and, as a result, was willing to consider a new technology when approached by the integrator.

Shane Meenan, ADT Healthcare Solutions’ sales director, calls Pinnacle an IP pioneer.

“You have to give the PinnacleHealth officials credit,” he says. “They made a total move into IP at a time when it was still fairly unusual in the security industry. Pinnacle is continually on the leading edge of security technology.”

Currently, Pinnacle’s system transmits video from Honeywell and Bosch analog cameras. Those streams are transmitted over Pinnacle’s network to 17 dedicated camera servers spread between the three hospitals and the outpatient site. The cameras are monitored and managed through a Honeywell digital video manager and recorded onto servers. All video is recorded continuously.  

To assist with storage capacity, ADT originally installed an 8TB extended storage unit by Intransa at the flagship Harrisburg Hospital. That unit was recently moved to the community hospital, and ADT upgraded to a 14TB unit in Harrisburg Hospital.

From the control room of Harrisburg Hospital, a security officer continuously monitors cameras overlooking entries to the lobby and emergency department. Other cameras throughout the campus can be viewed as required by events. The three other PinnacleHealth facilities maintain their own video servers as recorders to maximize efficiencies on the organization’s wide area network. Video can be retrieved and reviewed in the main security control room as necessary. Security officers also monitor access control alarms, panic buttons and an infant protection system.

Read about how PinnacleHealth protects its emergency department.

Hospital Network Easily Handles Video
Since the video moves over the hospital’s network, PinnacleHealth’s IT department has been intimately involved from the beginning of the switch to an IP-based system. Chris Mohr, a PinnacleHealth network analyst, says there was never any doubt that the hospital’s already robust network infrastructure left it better suited than most for IP-based video and access control systems.

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