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Security at Hebrew SeniorLife

Peace of mind is an important factor when choosing long-term chronic care for yourself or a loved one.

Peace of mind is an important factor when choosing long-term chronic care for yourself or a loved one.

In the interview below, Sakhonh Kheuamun, Director of Security and Emergency Operations at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center in Boston and Victor Furtado, Director of Security and Emergency Operations at NewBridge on the Charles in Dedham, talk about the measures Hebrew SeniorLife takes on both campuses to keep patients safe without compromising their freedom and dignity.

1. Tell me a little bit about your background. Describe the education and training you received to become head of security.

VF: I have worked in security for about 17 years. All of my education and training has come from real-world experience. I started out as an entry-level guard with Lahey Clinic right after high school and worked up to supervising event security for the security company IPC International in a very short time. Both organizations helped teach me a lot about emergency services.

SK: I attended Springfield Technical Community College where I earned an associates degree in Criminal Justice. I am also certified as a trainer by the Non-Violent Crisis Prevention Institute and certified as a basic life support responder. I have also completed several FEMA trainings.

2. What do you find rewarding as a Director of Security and Emergency Operations for HSL?

VF: I truly enjoy working with so many different people in a variety of ways. I have established many meaningful relationships with colleagues, patients, and their family members. Every day is different, and my team contributes in many different ways. Often I've learned that the smallest gesture can lead to connecting with our patients and their family members in rewarding ways.

SK: What I like about working at Hebrew SeniorLife is the strong sense of community the organization has. We foster strong relationships among our co-workers and the patient population. I have worked at HRC for the past 12 years and have grown professionally, but more importantly, grown as a person. As Director of Security and Emergency Operations, I have been given the opportunity to train and nourish team members and help them be their best.

3. Describe some of the security challenges that are unique to protecting seniors.

VF: Being sensitive to the family dynamics that are involved in everyday life at HRC NewBridge can be challenging. Many of our seniors have to endure life-changing conditions that require sensitivity and patience; making sure they always remain heard and respected is a high priority.

SK: The majority of our senior population cannot get around without devices such as wheelchairs and walkers for assistance, this can be a challenge when it comes to evacuating from our facilities and limits our options for transportation. Also, a growing number of our senior population does not speak English; rather they speak Russian, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Greek, Vietnamese or Cantonese. During an emergency situation, it can be a challenge to communicate without the help of a translator.

4. Does HRC have any security or safety features that are unique to protecting seniors?

VF: At NewBridge, we have a security control room that is staffed 24/7 and monitors our 162-acre campus. This control room is supported by trained first responders and EMTs who take a great deal of pride in being a part of the community and providing concierge-level services to our seniors.

SK:  HRC Boston also has a security control room with monitored CCTV. HRC utilizes the Stanley Roam Alert patient wander tag system to secure our memory-care focused floors. Additionally, many doors can only be unlocked with the appropriate card.

5. What measures does HRC take to prevent harm to dementia patients?

VF:  We have secure units with special features like the Roam Alert System to help ensure that our patients with memory impairments stay safe. This security technology secures exits and disables elevators while alerting security if a patient or resident is attempting to exit the facility without a care provider.

SK: Hebrew SeniorLife has all employees who work in our health care facilities attend an 8-hour habilitation training seminar. The seminar teaches our employees how to effectively take care of a dementia patient and meet daily challenges.

6. What do you do to prepare for adverse weather events?

VF: We activate our Incident Command Plan by meeting with all of our key department leaders to review potential challenges while strategically maintaining essential staffing levels before, during, and after a weather event. We also provide regular training and drill exercises to help make sure we keep performing at our very best for any emergency event.

SK: We monitor the weather reports in real time. We maintain communication with our local health care coalitions and practice emergency disaster drills regularly.

7. What role does HRC play in disaster planning along with other hospitals in the area?

VF: HRC is a very active member of the Massachusetts Mutual Aid Plan (MASSMAP), which is a statewide mutual aid plan with more than 400 participating local hospitals and residential care facilities. We meet and train regularly with our regional partners to meet regulatory requirements while maintaining a high level of preparedness.

SK: HRC is the host for the Long-Term Care Coordinating Center for Region 4 in the MASSMAP. This means that in the event a facility encounters an emergency or disaster, our command center will assist with coordinating the evacuation of the disaster-struck facility within the state. HSL also actively participates in Region 4 C‘s Healthcare Coalition. The Coalition meets bi-monthly and works on projects related to emergency preparedness. The Coalition has representation from all the disciplines in health care for Boston including, all the hospitals, Department of Public Health, EMS, community centers, and long-term care facilities for which HRC is the representative. HSL’s participation with the coalition and MASSMAP has been fundamental in strengthening our bonds with partners in the community and is instrumental in our practice for emergency preparedness.

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