How UMHHC Went From Controversy to Triumph

Here's how one Michigan healthcare organization overcame a scandal to win the IAHSS Lindberg Bell award.
Published: August 20, 2014

Every year the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety honors one healthcare organization with the Lindberg Bell award for its outstanding security and/or safety program. This year’s winner was the University of Michigan Hospital and Health Centers (UMHHC).

For any healthcare organization, winning the Lindberg Bell is a remarkable accomplishment on its own. UMHHC’s win was particularly impressive, however, considering the extremely challenging circumstances and scrutiny the hospital had experienced during the previous two years.

Scandal Prompts Public Safety Program Reorganization

Early in 2012, it was revealed that UMHHC took about six months to report that one of its medical students was in possession of child pornography. This controversy was in the news at the same time as the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky scandal was breaking. Needless to say, it was cause for significant concern by UM administrators, not to mention the media.

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“We had a breakdown in the reporting of incidents, so the university did an internal audit, and we had Margolis & Healy come in and look at our operations,” says UM Division of Public Safety and Security Chief Strategy Officer Marilyn Hollier. “We also had another firm come in and look at our technology. Through that review, it was determined that there were opportunities to improve collaboration and communication, but at the end of the day, the [late] reporting of that incident was not the fault of the hospital security department.”

Based on the recommendations of the audits, UM reorganized its three major security programs, including the hospital security department, into one unit – the Division of Public Safety and Security (DPSS) – which reports to one executive director.

“Physicians trust our judgment enough that when we tell them something doesn’t seem right, they may take a second look at the patient and come up with another plan, which may be better for the patient.” – UMHHC Security Senior Supervisor Lt. Erik Mattila

“We would have our unique missions, but at the higher level have a new division where we would better communicate and collaborate,” says Hollier.”

Security Partners With Other Departments

And communicate and collaborate they certainly did. UMHHC’s security department got to work, participating in various work groups and committees.

For example, campus police, housing, hospital security and compliance officers put together a training program with specific scenarios to help everyone understand how to appropriately share information under HIPAA. Members of the UMHHC security department now sit at the table of all new construction projects so the appropriate design guidelines are implemented. Security department representatives also sit on other committees, including environment of care and patient family centered care. Security also partnered with nursing, doctors and social services to review complicated cases and different patients to determine how hospital staff and clinicians could decrease the number of incidents requiring restraints.

Managing family members when their loved ones were at the end of their lives was another issue that was tackled collaboratively. In their grief, some family members of patients who have died act out during this stressful time. Previously, this challenge wasn’t recognized by many in the hospital as being a security issue. Now it is recognized and handled appropriately. Additionally, the working group on this matter identified other factors besides the death of a loved one that could exacerbate the problem, such as the family member being tired or hungry.

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Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series