Meet Michigan Medicine: Security

January 22, 2018  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

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Security at Michigan Medicine is synonymous with service. Not only is this team charged with keeping patients and employees safe, security officers are often the most highly-visible and best ambassadors for the organization.

In their roles, security colleagues can be some of the first employees that patients and their families encounter upon arriving and among the last employees they interact with before they leave, making them an integral part of the patient experience.

“People don’t necessarily think about security playing a major role in the patient experience, but it drives absolutely everything we do,” said Perry Spencer, director of Michigan Medicine Security.

Here’s what you may not know about this group that emphasizes both safety and service at Michigan Medicine.

Acting with compassion

Hospital security is a 24/7 operation that ensures the safety of everyone on the main medical campus and various ambulatory clinics by focusing on two key attributes: compassion and empathy.

“Those are the most important things we look for when we hire our officers,” Spencer said. “If you’re able to understand where an agitated person is coming from, it helps you keep that person calm and everyone around them calm.”

Newly-hired officers undergo three months of rigorous training, including verbal de-escalation training and proper restraint training. They also must learn their way around the medical center in order to respond efficiently to any call for help.

“All of those efforts are aimed at allowing our officers to provide important services in a quick, friendly and effective way,” Spencer said.

A welcoming role

More than 90 security officers work at Michigan Medicine, donning blue shirts with shiny silver badges.

The team also has close to 80 guest service specialists, who can be identified by their dark sport coats embroidered with a yellow security badge. Guest service specialists are stationed at the main entrance to University Hospital and C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, and on each inpatient floor at Mott as well as in the two emergency departments. These employees welcome patients and families, help them find their way and even make recommendations such as where to eat or how to find the nearest hotel.

“While being a resource for our patients and families, guest service specialists are also doing important security screening,” Spencer said, pointing out that these staff members identify any visitors who may be ill with the flu or other infections and keep an eye out for restricted individuals who may not be allowed to visit certain patients.

“Very few health care institutions have security staff in a welcoming role,” Spencer said. “It allows our team to be more friendly and approachable while doing our job more effectively.”

Providing help — inside and out

Security officers play a number of other roles at Michigan Medicine. They investigate reports of thefts, manage the organization’s lost-and-found and monitor cameras across the health system. They also distribute ID badges and keys to staff members and monitor parking structures and commuter lots.

“We’ll escort colleagues to their vehicle if they desire an extra level of security, we’ll unlock car doors for people and jumpstart their vehicles,” Spencer said. “We don’t want anyone to be left alone in parking areas as they wait for help to arrive.”

Finally, security officers play an educational and preparedness role on campus. The department leads a number of training sessions and table-top exercises with the help of their U-M Division of Public Safety and Security partners to help colleagues prepare for emergencies such as natural disasters or an active shooter scenario.

Who you gonna call?

If you’d like the assistance of hospital security, or want to report any abnormal or suspicious behavior, contact the department 24 hours a day at extension 6-7890 from any house phone. An officer will respond as soon as possible.

“No situation is too trivial for us to handle,” Spencer said. “Sometimes the smallest hint of irregular behavior serves as the tipping point for something much bigger. If you let us know, we can do something about it and get people the help they need. That’s why we’re here.”

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