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Heroes For Better

Protecting Campuses, Communities and Staff

Security Offers Safety With a Smile

Personal protective equipment (PPE) has taken on a greater meaning during this time. It symbolizes the solidarity among front-line care teams to not only protect themselves, but also their patients — and one another. However, it takes much more than PPE to keep healthcare facilities safe.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020, Northwestern Medicine had begun taking several proactive steps to address safety, including preparing for a patient surge, conserving PPE and expanding telehealth services to allow patients to receive care via phone or video chat.

Protecting the Community

When it comes to protection and safety, Security Services has stepped up without hesitation to help ensure the safety of others.

“We view our team as a partner to everyone in the hospital, including healthcare providers, Environmental Services, volunteers and the public. We are there partnering to keep everyone safe and to help everyone navigate through the facilities, in a way that’s respectful and compassionate,” says Jeff Good, vice president of Security Services for the system.

And, that takes a lot of manpower. Hundreds of Security Services employees have been on the front lines, greeting those who arrive at public entrances and assisting at testing locations, all while maintaining security throughout Northwestern Medicine facilities.

“We’re all going to look back for years to come and recognize this was a very unique period in our history,” Good notes. “It’s frustrating not to be able to be with our friends and families, but we can say we rose to the challenge despite the noise. And, we had a set of officers across our entire workforce who said, ‘What can I do?’”

Quick Adjustments to Rapid Change

As understanding of COVID-19 evolves, so too do protective measures.

“We’ve been able to pair seamlessly with staff to ensure this change has a minimal impact on patients and visitors who continue to enter the campus,” says George DiLeonardi, director of Security Services on the Northwestern Medicine campus in downtown Chicago.

“This experience has been a rapidly changing envrionment, but it’s been eye-opening to us as far as our flexibility and what our team is capable of,” says Michael Buchanan, director of Security Services for Northwestern Medicine McHenry Hospital, Northwestern Medicine Huntley Hospital and Northwestern Medicine Woodstock Hospital.

“It’s hard to prepare when we didn’t know what we were preparing for,” says Martin Williams, director of Security Services at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital, part of Northwestern Medicine, and four other campuses: Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital, Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital and Northwestern Medicine Valley West Hospital.

To keep patients, staff and community safe, visitor restrictions evolved to help prevent the spread of the virus. Managing those changing restrictions was a key task for Security Services customer service officers. “In spite of these challenges, you can tell that they are smiling even underneath their masks,” says DiLeonardi.

To support safety efforts on hospital campuses, the team established key entry points, assisted with the creation of employee and visitor screenings, and ensured traffic flow was clearly marked. To further elevate screening efforts, Good spearheaded operations to deploy thermal camera technology, which allows staff to identify people who have an elevated temperature while maintaining physical distance.

“Everything has been done with a lot of thought, especially designing access control points and what we were locking down,” says Eric Swanson, director of Security Services for Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital and Northwestern Medicine Grayslake Outpatient Center campuses. “We’ve done everything we could do to be a safe, but still welcoming and healing environment.”

Staying Safe During a Pandemic