Utah Valley Regional Medical Center has all the makings of a city within a city.
The hospital has an annual population (made up of employees, patients and visitors) of 100,000 and features a number of supportive enterprises: a medical library, a pharmacy, a bank, a gift store, a restaurant and a cafeteria. Many of these facilities are open 24 hours a day. And, as you might find in any well-run city, the hospital has its own security force."We call our officers protective service officers," said Mike Rawson, manager of support services (security, housekeeping, motor pool, laundry and communications) at UVRMC. "We're in business to serve and protect the patients, facility and employees."
Protection, prevention and service are primary goals of the eight-member security staff at the hospital.
To that end, the hospital has implemented several measures during the past five years to beef up security within the hospital. Security cameras monitor all entrances and high-risk areas at the hospital, such as parking lots, pharmacy and maternity. Employees are required to wear photo identification badges at all times; UVRMC was the first hospital in the state to do so, said Rawson.
"We had one incident where we observed (on the monitors) an individual loitering in the maternity area," Rawson said. "It turned out he had a felony background and there was evidence he had been involved in a kidnap attempt in another state.
"Our whole intent is to prevent something from ever happening here," Rawson said. "We are very service oriented and try to be a single response resource (within the hospital)."
Rawson said his department investigates between 300 and 400 criminal incidents per year, ranging from petty theft to physical assault.
"The biggest single issue we have to investigate is theft of hospital and personal property," Rawson said. "We lose everything from typewriters to heart monitors to pies from the kitchen. It is a concern because some of the stuff is very expensive."
The protective officers also spend a lot of time monitoring the facility, inspecting fire safety equipment and lending a helping hand where needed - helping to open cars when the keys have been left inside or walking employees to cars at night.
And, the officers help control potentially violent situations, whether they involve patients or visitors to the hospital. Such situations may develop with psychiatric patients or with criminals brought to the hospital by outside law enforcement agencies. And, it is not uncommon for friends or relatives of a patient brought into the emergency center to react aggressively under the stress of the situation.
"The officers have a lot of training in moving people," Rawson said. "It is a real challenge with hospital security. We have to use only the force necessary to accomplish the job, to control the situation while protecting the patient, facility and employees."
The hospital's protective officers carry stun guns, and Rawson said they have been used in the past.
"We looked at a number of things several years ago because we felt the security officers needed some kind of protection and force," Rawson said. "We don't use them often, and we hope we don't have to, but we have."
Each of the hospital's protective officers have attended eight hours of training in the proper use of a stun gun. During the training, the officers themselves are required to stun each other; Dave Randall, one of UVRMC's security officers, said the worst part of the training was "waiting for your turn."
"We think it is a good organization," Rawson said. "We think (the officers are) well trained. We hope it's safe here. We try very hard to maintain a safe, secure atmosphere, to do all we can to make a hospital stay as pleasant and safe as possible. We've moved away from the traditional law enforcement role, although we realize it's needed sometimes."