Security Officers Win Prestigious Safety Certification
The Ben Hudnall Trust helps make it happen
Security officers in the Northwest recently were awarded a Level 1 Security Department Accreditation from the International Association of Healthcare Safety and Security (IAHSS).
That’s an achievement held by only 16 hospitals in the United States, including such industry leaders as Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Every officer in the Northwest region, as well as one of the department's managers, has gone through a training curriculum allowing them to handle serious safety concerns in a medical setting.
It all began three years ago when dispatcher/security officer Greg Chavez started investigating IAHSS certification to help officers upgrade their skills. His efforts hit a wall when the department did not have the funds for training.
Around the same time, Chavez attended a workforce development information meeting and heard about the Ben Hudnall Trust, a fund established for Coalition unions outside of SEIU (which has its own education fund) to help employees advance their skills.
Chavez and Lori Wambold, the Union Coalition labor partner for Workforce Planning and Development in the Northwest, worked to process the department’s 55 applications through the trust so employees could begin the course work.
Wambold says it’s not unusual for employees to tap into the trust by word of mouth. “It’s really rewarding to go from that initial contact with someone in the field and see it come to completion with a certification or graduation,” she says.
We have a true labor management partnership; it’s not a push-pull relationship. We always work together to make things work.
It takes commitment
The officers completed a self-study program for the certification on their own time. Every Tuesday night for about four months, officers met at the Kaiser Permanente Building for a study group, until they all had taken the required course work to earn their certification.
“It’s a mark of distinction,” explains Bob Black, security manager at Kaiser Sunnyside Medical Center.
The team will recertify every three years and managers are trying to make the certification a job requirement for new hires.
The Northwest is the only Kaiser Permanente region where the security officers are permanent employees. As members of ILWU, they are part of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions and protect the safety and well-being of patients and employees.
Working in a unit-based team
The security department is one of the newest unit-based teams in the region. “We’re a collaborative group and we have a good relationship with management,” says Chavez.
Bob Smith, director of regional security services, agrees. “We have a true labor management partnership; it’s not a push-pull relationship. We always work together to make things work.”
Team members are focused on cutting expenses even though there is little wiggle room in their budget. “Eighty-five percent of our budget goes to staffing,” Chavez explains.
One way team members hope to save money is by picking up their uniforms, rather than paying to have them delivered. Security rovers—officers who float from one facility to another—have begun to pick up the uniforms from the supplier. The team expects to save about $2,000 a year.
The team is working on several other projects, including a paperless incident report system and ongoing training on managing aggressive behavior from patients and visitors.
This ambitious group also gets high customer service ratings and team members’ attendance shines.