Operationalizing Infection Prevention

In all the blogging I have done related to healthcare security and COVID-19 (see Three things a healthcare security leader should consider due to COVID-19, Four keys to successful hospital visitor management during the COVID-19 pandemic, & In the news: Three unusual healthcare security threats during the COVID-19 Pandemic), I have neglected to talk about one of the most critical shifts in security operations, the incorporation of infection prevention in our operations.

While infection prevention has always been a part of security operations in healthcare, the nature of advanced infection prevention due to COVID-19 is a fundamental paradigm shift for front-line officers. As healthcare security leaders we must look at infection prevention as a critical extension of force protection. The health and safety of officers is crucial to our ability to carry out our mission. If we undervalue the role of infection prevention in preservation of force, then we will find ourselves vulnerable in a way that puts the organization at unnecessary risk.

This includes all facets of infection prevention (IP) efforts, from gowns and masks to common area cleanliness. The first step to mitigate this risk is for healthcare security leaders to partner with their organization’s infection prevention specialists to discuss the impacts of IP on operations. These discussions should include things like collecting patient valuables from an isolation room as well as responding to acts of violence in an isolation room. In all cases, job number one is protecting the officer and job number two is carry out the mission effectively. Once the process for effective IP is established, then training is key.

Training frontline officers to carry out duties with effective IP in place means practice, practice, and more practice. It is important to build muscle memory surrounding the donning and doffing of personal protective equipment. This can only be accomplished with ongoing hands on practice. Additionally, sound tactical response requires officer training to contemplate the use of tools like batons and handcuffs, while wearing gloves, gowns, and face shields. We cannot expect an officer to function effectively under these conditions if they have never practiced such a response.

Without effective operationalization of IP in your security program, both your facilities and your officers may be exposed to unnecessary risk. This would be an oversight none of us can afford.

What are your thoughts on operationalizing IP in your facility? What have you done to better equip your officers? Join the conversions in the comments below? Don’t forget to like, follow and share to support the Proactive Security Blog.

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