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Access control system secures drug cabinets

Salto Systems : 16 May, 2007  (Application Story)
US hospital reduces risk of drug and medicine thefts from storage cabinets with installation of centralised access control systems from Salto.
As part of the process for maintaining its Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval, American Fork Hospital in Utah has installed a state-of-the-art networked access control package from Salto Systems to secure its pharmaceutical supplies stored in cabinets, refrigerators, and storerooms.

As part of a group of 21 hospitals owned and operated by Intermountain Healthcare, a non-profit healthcare provider based in Salt Lake City, the hospital delivers quality care to people with a medical need, regardless of ability to pay. It serves the healthcare needs of Utah and south-eastern Idaho residents and is proud to have been recognized three times as one of America's top 100 hospitals.

As a modern 205,000 square foot facility with state-of-the-art medical technology, 117 beds and a medical staff of more than 200 physicians representing 25 specialties, American Fork Hospital recognizes that crime prevention and patient safety in hospitals must always focus on the need to preserve essential healthcare facilities while simultaneously providing a safe environment for staff and visitors.

A central element in any hospital's crime risk is the presence of large, transient populations, which makes it difficult in many cases to control access and identify trespassers. This basic vulnerability combined with several other considerations, such as the fact that a huge variety of hospital property also has ordinary domestic uses, or is otherwise usable outside the healthcare environment - especially medicines and drugs - makes it attractive to thieves. And given the fact that most stolen property is easily disposable, this means that very often a lot of crime in hospitals goes unreported.

This risk clearly justifies a considerable security effort and to ensure the storage facilities for its medicines and drugs were secure as part of its compliance with the Joint Commission accreditation process, American Fork Hospital decided to upgrade the levels of security protection on its pharmaceutical cabinet, refrigerator, and storeroom doors with an electronic access control system.

The Joint Commission accreditation is a nationwide seal of approval that indicates a hospital meets high performance standards and as an independent, not-for-profit organization, is the nation's predominant standards-setting and accrediting body in healthcare. It evaluates and accredits nearly 15,000 healthcare organizations and programs in the United States and to earn it a hospital must undergo a full on-site survey by a Joint Commission survey team at least every three years.

'The hospital considered fitting fully hard wired systems from other manufacturers to boost security but hard wiring an entire building for a fully on-line controlled system is prohibitively expensive and is not always technically achievable due to mains power and network cable run problems' says Randy Hutchings, National Sales Manager Dealer Network, of Salto Systems Inc.

'However we were able to demonstrate that the Salto 'SVN' and 'Networked Locks' system could provide them with a practical alternative providing almost everything that a hard wired system would deliver but in a stand alone, wire free format and at lower cost, saving valuable dollars.'

Like many of today's buildings, American Fork Hospital needed an access control system since one of their main problems was with key control. The Salto Virtual Network (SVN) revolutionizes the problems associated with key control since it provides 90% of what you get from a wired online system and uses distributed intelligence both in the lock and in the key to allow users to manage their access control requirements in a secure and comfortable way.

Another key requirement was the ability to integrate with the hospitals LAN (Local Area Network) system without the need for any expensive upgrades. This was achieved by networking all the doors via the wall readers SVN capability so that they were online with real time audit and instant management capability as well as acting as hotspot data transfer points.

The SVN system allows the stand-alone locks and wall readers to read, receive and write information via the staff photo ID cards. Since most of the access related information needed is kept encrypted on these cards, the wall readers are able to update and receive information from the cards at any time while from the user's point of view, the up-dater is just another wall reader.
The 'smart' ID cards build up 'on-card' audit trails through normal use enabling hospital management to track movement through both the off line and on line parts of the system as required, and a complete access profile of each individual can be established and updated as necessary at the up date wall readers.
Any ID cards that become lost or stolen can be quickly and simply deleted from the system just through visiting the readers with up-dated cards. The system also greatly reduces the number of visits necessary to the doors since user data is simply transferred on cards by normal usage. This simple but secure functionality eliminates any need to replace locks if security is breached due to the loss or theft of an ID card.

Dallas Moore, Pharmacy Director at American Fork Hospital said: 'This was a challenging project and following our regular Joint Commission inspection we wanted to improve security and key control in our medicine storage areas. Our medication has to be secured, so to achieve this we evaluated several providers as we needed to find an integrated system with the ability to centrally monitor installations throughout our pharmacy area using the hospital's LAN system as well as safely and reliably control access to the secure drugs storage areas.

We chose Salto Systems because they offered everything we needed and their system is a very easy way to manage thousands of users and hundreds of locks. We've now installed a mix of Salto SVN capable wall readers, control units, escutcheons and i-Locker electronic locker locks and these are controlled via contactless 4k Mifare stickers incorporated within standard issue staff photo ID cards.

The threat of crime or theft has been significantly reduced and we now have the ability to control a wide variety of locking devices within the pharmaceutical area using one database. We're so impressed with the system we're already installing it into two other hospitals within our group at Orem Community Hospital and Utah Valley Regional Medical Centre ensuring they, like American Fork Hospital, will continue to be both an accessible and secure environment for all their users.'
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