Keeping ‘our neighborhoods’ safe: Q&A with Brian Uridge, director, Michigan Medicine Security
Brian Uridge, M.P.A., C.P.P., CHPA, joined Michigan Medicine as the director of security in late 2018. Prior to his role in the organization, Uridge spent close to three decades in public safety and health care security.
Recently, Headlines caught up with Uridge to discuss his new position and the exciting initiatives he has planned for the organization.
Check out what he had to say!
Q: You have nearly 30 years of experience in public safety and health care security. What makes health care security different from other types of public safety services? What are some of its unique challenges?
BU: Many years ago, I was asked during a job interview to discuss this sentence: “A police department is only as effective as the community in which it works.”
It wasn’t until many years later that I truly understood what this meant. Because the most important part of law enforcement is building relationships with your community to help better understand issues. In health care, that charge is actually very similar. Every hospital is a community and every floor is a neighborhood, each with unique challenges. The concerns that originate in each of our neighborhoods are all unique, from a holistic level such as access control, to the fine minutia such as threat management.
For example, the acute distress that presents itself in our adult emergency services neighborhood is different than the longevity of the distressing behaviors that may be present in the neighborhoods that make up one of our ambulatory care sites. No matter the challenges and concerns of our community, the more we can proactively develop relationships with each floor and neighborhood, the more effective we are as partners for safety and security.
Q: What is your top priority for Michigan Medicine security as you settle into your new role?
BU: We have an amazing group of more than 200 Department of Public Safety and Security (DPSS) professionals throughout Michigan Medicine. For years, we have had a robust patrolling program with officers dedicated to various floors. Those officers ensure that we meet the needs of our patients, staff and visitors. Today, our top priority is to integrate all of our various DPSS community-oriented engagement programs into all of the health system neighborhoods that weave throughout the fabric of the organization.
Q: Are there any new programs or initiatives that you are excited to roll out in the near future?
BU: We are in the process of rolling out many new initiatives, all of which center around ensuring a safe and secure environment through the three basic principles of trust, training and technology.
To focus on building trust in our neighborhoods, we began a daily non-traditional security outreach program focused on reducing both risk and anxiety. Every officer has been asked that during each day, when not on a call, they connect with a staff member they have never met and engage them in a short conversation. Additionally, our officers are asked to meet a patient or family member each day, and engage them in a short conversation. It shows that our team is there not just when things go wrong, but at all times. Though this program is in its infancy, the feedback has been amazing.
We’re also building an exciting foundation for collaborative training. We’re constructing a comprehensive pilot for scenario-based training programs that will occur in unoccupied clinical and office space. While we anticipate many of the attendees will be nurses and clinicians, all are welcome. This joint effort will provide practical application on topics such as workplace violence prevention, intervention and response, situational awareness, crime prevention and in-home health care safety.
Q: What do you feel is the biggest misperception about security services at Michigan Medicine?
BU: A common misperception is that security is only about sitting at a desk. Bringing awareness to the multitude of unique services that DPSS can provide is just one of the ways we are trying to mitigate that perception. For example, we have a full-time Engagement and Investigations Unit, which conducts both criminal (such as larcenies and assaults) and non-criminal investigations (such as suspicious circumstances). We also have officers trained to respond and assist with Survival Flight transports, and some that are assigned the DPSS Community Engagement Unit that focuses solely on outreach and training of clinical staff.
In addition, we are in a unique position, in that we have a health care system based as part of a university, which allows Michigan Medicine to have the full-time resources of law enforcement officers, many of whom were once security officers in the hospital. This allows them to share their criminal investigations and executive protection expertise. Finally, we have experts in conducting security vulnerability assessments and critical incident planning. While our department may be called security, we’re a wide-ranging service.
Q: What do you like to do outside of work? Do you have a hobby or skill that may surprise some people?
BU: I enjoy boating, snowmobiling and virtually any type of water sports. I have very few skills — however one that may surprise people is that I am a licensed helicopter and airplane pilot!