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Team Recap: AMFP Colorado's "Behind the Scenes of Healthcare Safety & Security" Event

On November 2, healthcare professionals, design and construction experts, and security specialists gathered at the CommonSpirit Mountain Region Corporate Office Auditorium for AMFP Colorado's Behind the Scenes of Healthcare Safety & Security event. The event offered an insightful exploration of the intricate relationship between healthcare safety, security, and the built environment, with dynamic insights from a panel of experts.


Our host for the day was Meredith Wardwell, the Enterprise Director of Construction & Operations at CommonSpirit Health. She orchestrated an illustrious panel of presenters that included Kaycee Shiskowsky, Manager of Clinical Planning & Design for UCHealth; Kelly Gettman, Senior Quality RN – Department of Safety & Quality for Denver Health; and Sean Ahrens, a Security Consultant and Design expert from AEI.

Convention room with two presentation screens and four business professionals sitting down, giving a panel discussion to well lit audience
From Left to Right: Kelly Gettman, Kaycee Shiskowsky, Sean Ahrens & Meredith Wardwell

The core theme of the event revolved around the critical importance of including security considerations within the design of healthcare facilities. It's about designing spaces that prioritize the safety and well-being of patients, their families, and staff.


Sean Ahrens brought forth compelling data on the increase in injuries and violence in healthcare settings. His theory is that this issue is multi-faceted and can be attributed to factors like a lack of communication, environmental elements such as heat and hunger, the choice of colors, and even the placement of potential aggressors in secured areas. Additionally, he highlighted the heightened emotions often typical in healthcare settings. Sean provided a graphical representation illustrating how Emergency Departments (EDs) and behavioral health units could be strategically designed to enhance safety and security, addressing these complex issues.

Convention room with two presentation screens and four business professionals giving a panel discussion to well lit audience
From Left to Right: Kelly Gettman, Kaycee Shiskowsky, Sean Ahrens & Meredith Wardwell

Kaycee and Kelly added real-world perspectives, drawing from their experience as nurses, and showcased how design can either create improvements or hinder safety. They artfully tied these experiences to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, underlining how the built environment directly impacts the well-being of both patients and healthcare professionals. Their presentations served as powerful testaments to the critical role that thoughtful facility design plays in healthcare.


As a company focused on the IT components of healthcare construction, we honed in on the discussions surrounding technology and its pivotal role in healthcare safety. Healthcare systems have implemented technologies and continue to explore opportunities for useful technologies. The represented healthcare organizations at the event are currently using RTLS (Real-Time Location Services) in some capacity, from asset and staff tracking to handwashing. These tools reduce the necessity for manual documentation of items, lost or stolen assets, staff workflow improvements, and safety.

360 degree security camera

The conversation extended to the deployment of 360-degree cameras for purposes of virtual nursing and telemetry. These technologies empower healthcare staff to monitor patients remotely and offer an additional layer of safety and security. Some organizations are implementing monitored cameras in parking lots to prevent potential threats from entering the facility. Distress buttons or more discreet distress kickplates can also set off a light above a room or bed in the ED to help identify where the distress is so that security can focus on the right location sooner. Robots utilization continues to emerge, not only for tasks like food delivery and linen management but also for the surveillance and enhancement of security in healthcare facilities. Sean predicts robots will be used increasingly for surveillance but also spotlighted the significance of low-tech options like lighting and space compartmentalization for enhancing security.

Male nurse wearing scrubs stands at computer smiling while other medical professionals are in background talking amongst each other

However, the discussion unveiled the nurses', who are the heart and soul of healthcare, apprehension about new technologies. They often approach technology with caution, stemming from prior experiences where technology malfunctions or poor designs led to additional tasks and interruptions in their workflow resulting in workarounds. Nurses have enough on their plate and multi-step processes contribute to burnout. The consensus was clear: technology should be user-friendly with simple instructions, ideally comprising no more than three steps.


An essential point explored was the early involvement of security professionals and nurses in the design process to avoid redesign and ensure that facility design aligns seamlessly with their workflow and regulatory requirements. Even with early involvement, stakeholders sometimes struggle to visualize how a space will function solely from architectural drawings. Mockups and VR (Virtual Reality) tools were underscored as invaluable aids, with an emphasis on the significance of high-quality BIM (Building Information Modeling) data for the effectiveness of VR tools.


The event served as a platform for healthcare professionals and design and construction experts to explore the realm of healthcare safety and security, with a wealth of insights from the panelists. It embodied the collaborative spirit and innovation that AMFP Colorado epitomizes in the healthcare industry. The Association of Medical Facility Professionals (AMFP) is on a mission "To be the hub where healthcare built environment leaders share ideas, gain knowledge, solve challenges, connect with peers, and shape the future of the industry."


For those interested in discovering more about AMFP Colorado and its future events, please visit their website. As the confluence of technology, the insights of healthcare professionals, and the mission of AMFP Colorado continue to shape the future of healthcare, we eagerly anticipate the transformative developments that lie ahead in the dynamic healthcare landscape.

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