Surgeons at Flower Hospital, Sylvania, Ohio, no longer need to fumble with ID badges after scrubbing for surgery. Instead, a hypoallergenic/anti-microbial biometric entry system reads the physician’s hand and relays information back to the access control system to allow entry to the surgery area.

Bringing everything together is the business goal of Donald Sullivan and James Hofbauer. They have discovered that hanging cutting edge technology from a solid access control platform allows them to improve security, meet the enterprise’s needs, all without busting the budget.

Sullivan is security system technology specialist, and Hofbauer is security director at Promedica Health System’s Central Region in Toledo, Ohio. At Sylvania, Ohio-based Flower Hospital, its surgery room is just one example of well-engineered technology updates that gives Promedica one of the most cutting-edge healthcare access control/security systems in the nation today.


In an effort to eliminate the challenge of surgeons, nurses and support staff from fumbling with ID badges through scrubs or forgetting them, Flower’s surgery room grants door entry access through hypoallergenic/antimicrobial coated biometric hand readers.
The access control system increases entry speed in critical situations and most importantly creates a highly secure entry beyond card swipe technology that also allows PHS central security personnel to monitor and record through the hospital’s access control system software by Matrix Systems, Dayton, Ohio. Registration is a two-minute process in Flower Hospital’s security center. Surgery room personnel enroll with a biometric hand scan. The hand scan template is processed and attached to the employee’s security ID profile in the access control software. Hand Key II software and the access control software were seamlessly integrated and now enables Flower Hospital’s security manager, Jonathan Jones, easy control over the enrollment procedure.
Once enrolled, the employees enter the surgery room via the device’s keypad code followed by a biometric hand scan in a process that spans five seconds or less. While the surgery room access is a success, PHS’ lock shop is used as a beta site to test biometric hand readers for future applications, which will be brought on line in additional sensitive security locations in the future.


Biometrics is just one example of cutting edge security that Sullivan and Hofbauer are continually incorporating into the eight-hospital, not-for-profit healthcare organization that services 27 counties in northwest and west central Ohio and southeast Michigan.
Another cutting-edge example is The Toledo Hospital campus’ 145-space physician parking lot/garage. Previously physicians had to swipe ID cards or punch in ID numbers at an access control card reader to enter the facility. Now physicians have windshield-attached transponders that allow a more convenient and quicker hospital parking lot/garage entry. Because the wireless radio frequency identification (RFID) system sends entry information directly to the security department’s access control workstation, physicians are logged in immediately upon entering the campus. “If there’s an emergency and a need for a particular doctor, we know if that doctor is on campus,” said Hofbauer. “Plus, doctors are our customers too, so this is also a convenience for them because they no longer need to worry about remembering ID numbers or cards.”
Integrating RFID, in this case IDentity Flex from Sinit of Toronto, into more proprietary access control brands can be difficult. In this situation, the PHS’ access control system was easily interfaced. Like the surgery room biometric reader integration, Matrix installed the three receiver/antenna stations in the parking area, but also configured an interface board that streamlines software compatibility between the access control software and others. The parking lot entry system is a fully integrated component of the hospital’s overall access control security.


“There are a lot of great new security products on the market, but you must have access control software with interfacing capabilities so that different brands of new readers function just like any of the other hundreds of existing readers in the overall access control system,” said Hofbauer. “We saved significant costs because instead of administering a whole new system, the Sirit system could be integrated into our existing access control system.”
Sullivan and Hofbauer acknowledged PHS’ ongoing investments in state-of-the-art technology to ensure that they have a superior security system and monitoring in place at all of its hospitals. One example is PHS’ addition of over 400 security video cameras and 25 digital video recorder combinations (Panasonic, Secaucus, N.J.) in the last five years.
Yet another example of administrative support is PHS' new Renaissance Tower, which is located on the campus of The Toledo Hospital and Toledo Children’s Hospital. The security department’s innovative ideas were invited from the very first design stages of the 500,000-square-foot facility to ensure the mission of state-of-the-art access control was retained.


PHS also uses cutting edge technology to cut security costs without sacrificing functionality. An IP-centric device – Gateway — substitutes for more expensive full-fledged systems of security personnel, database servers, building controllers and workstations. It’s used at remote facilities, such as clinics, doctor offices and other locations that have a minimum amount of doors to control. These facilities still have full monitoring with security video and DVRs, plus physical door strike/lock capabilities all handled from a PHS central security office via the hospital’s network.
The PHS security system will continue to be cutting edge in the next 10 years because of strong corporate support.

PoE: When to Use It, When Not to Use It

When Power over Ethernet (PoE) came on the security scene, integrators and end-users both thought it was the end-all solution to powering remote door areas absent of AC power.
PoE transmits electrical power and data to remote devices over an existing standard Ethernet network’s twisted-pair CAT 5 cable, which is more cost-effective than installing AC power, in most instances. PoE is a real boon for data transmission such as security video transmission and voice over data. However access control takes a bit more judicious thought because of the inherent hardware that needs power. Therefore, knowing when to use it and when not to use it is the true art of PoE, according to Joseph Jenkins, senior project engineer for Matrix Systems.
PoE can reduce installation/labor costs associated with running individual AC power supplies by up to 33 percent. Additionally it can range up to 25 percent less in equipment costs versus a wireless hardware solution. When PoE is compared to running 120V power in conduit, plus a low voltage cable that relays communications between the card reader and the security workstation, it becomes a viable cost savings. However, all the accessories associated with true access control and security monitoring may not be available at every door.
There are other snafus as well. For example, the many variations of available hardware make selection critical as well as confusing. PoE might not be capable of powering all the components required for true access control, which consists of door strikes, card readers, request to exit, door status sensors, etc.  PoE might power a door lock, but if the monitoring security officer back at the workstation is unable to determine if a door is ajar because the status of the door sensor can’t be trusted due to insufficient or low power at the door, then the door isn’t always secure.