Four hospitals (St. Cloud, Long Prairie, Melrose and Sauk Centre), five long-term care facilities, nearly a dozen clinics and numerous specialty services operate under the growing CentraCare Health System umbrella in central Minnesota. In the past four years, Centra- Care’s growth has skyrocketed, and so, too, has the need to upgrade its security systems.
CentraCare’s security department has been working hard to coordinate safety and security measures at all of its locations. Faced with a variety of legacy analog cameras and DVRs, an agingaccess control system and difficult-to-secure narcotics cabinets, the collaborative healthcare group began searching for new technologies to help maintain central oversight of its increasing number of facilities and mitigate risks to patients and staff.
This search led CentraCare to Pro-Tec Design, a PSA Security Network owner and security system integrator based in Minneapolis. Together, they embarked on a multi-year, multi-pronged project that started with replacing the old access control system while shoring up narcotics supervision by integrating IP video, and ended with the hospital’s security team discovering new and innovative uses for their IP security system from the ambulance bays to the ER to the helipad.
Suturing Security Holes
As more medical facilities were brought under the CentraCare name, disparate systems and old technologies between the different properties were raising internal concerns about potential risk and liability. Some facilities used DVR-based, analog surveillance systems. Some relied solely on the presence of security staff. In either case, there was no way for CentraCare to integrate surveillance between the sites or centrally monitor the cameras.
Following the success of the narcotics monitoring solution, CentraCare extended this two-part, access control/ video strategy to other sensitive areas in the hospitals and clinics, including the pharmacies, human resource offices and other high, security-risk locations.
“Coupling these network cameras with access control has become the standard of care for CentraCare,” Becker said.
When CentraCare first decided to expand its surveillance project, Pro-Tec attached video encoders to existing, analog cameras to digitize the video streams and connect to the network that ran back to the main security office in St. Cloud Hospital. Since then, a majority of the legacy cameras have been replaced by more-advanced, high resolution network cameras.
Today, more than 300 surveillance cameras keep watch over CentraCare properties, stretching hundreds of miles across central Minnesota. Only a handful of the original analog cameras, now network-enabled with encoders, are still in place. All the cameras are managed through Milestone XProtect video management software from the health system’s security center. “Because CentraCare runs fiber between most of their facilities, we’re able to stream the video back to St. Cloud’s security center for storage,” Ferrian said. “Where the pipeline is too small, we record and store the video locally. The security director and his team can still view live and recorded video from all the cameras in the system.”
CentraCare currently has about 108 terabytes of total raw storage across the system residing on Pivot3 servers.
“Every year we add more storage,” Ferrian said. “And, every year they find more places where cameras would be useful that are going to need that storage.”