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New Ulm Medical Center

At NUMC, patient safety goes beyond the bedside

Beginning in May, New Ulm Medical Center (NUMC) introduced new security services designed to enhance overall safety for patients, visitors and staff. The new measures bring NUMC in line with the rest of the Allina Health system, which employs more than 200 security officers throughout its hospitals in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

"New Ulm takes patient safety, visitor safety and the safety of our staff very seriously," said Jonathan King, security supervisor at NUMC. "And part of that is having security services on site."

NUMC is now home to five security officers, two full-time and three part-time. Officers are on duty seven days a week from 8 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.

In addition to roaming the hospital halls to maintain the physical safety and security of the building, security officers will receive the same training and orientation that all other hospital employees receive. For instance, security staff will learn about the importance of protecting patients' private medical information.

Officers will make sure doors are locked to deter theft, check that fire extinguishers and fire alarms are working properly, and confirm that exit lights are functioning and nothing is blocking the hospital's emergency exits, King said.

"We'll also be helping to escort patients and visitors," he said. "We'll certainly be there for whatever patients need and that we're able to assist with."

Security staff also will be specifically trained in de-escalation techniques and nonviolent crisis intervention. The training means security officers will be especially equipped to deal with patients in crisis or those experiencing a mental health emergency.

King said the goal is to not only safeguard people's physical safety, but to maintain a peaceful and calm atmosphere so that all patients can receive the services they need.

"We are trained in law-enforcement techniques, but where we really shine is in de-escalation and in dealing with mentally ill patients," he said. "These patients are ill, and we want to make sure we're treating them in the most safe and humane way we can. Patients are our number-one priority."

Emergency preparedness is also a part of the new security staff's portfolio, King said. Officers will be trained in the Hospital Incident Command System and will take part in community-wide emergency drills alongside other first responders, such as local fire and police.

"Allina Health and New Ulm Medical Center aim to provide unparalleled health care and to do that we need to provide a safe environment," King said. "We're working to make New Ulm as safe for patients, visitors and staff as we possibly can."