Assessing Risk at Alternative Care Sites - Header


The COVID-19 pandemic is taxing our medical facilities like nothing we have ever witnessed before.  Today, healthcare facilities across the U.S. are evaluating how to markedly increase the medical capacity to manage the influx of patients.   There are some healthcare organizations that are converting space inside their environment while others are evaluating how to expand into facilities beyond their hospital campus – where the community security risks are less known.Crime Risk Map for Alternative Care Sites

There are a wide variety of spaces being used – all with the common desire to deliver care and protect the privacy, dignity, and health of every patient while creating a safe and secure environment.   The initial planning for these temporary facilities, like all new buildings or renovations, should always include a security vulnerability assessment.  The design often requires flexibility to address the changes related to expected surge capacity and we recognized the level of security may vary based on the environment and physical features of the facility.

To help you better understand the community in which the Alternative Care Site may be located, we at CAP Index, the leader in crime risk reports, extend a special offer: a free CRIMECAST report for every new facility being used as an alternative care site.

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Members of the IAHSS Security Design Guidelines Task Force recently produced design guidance for Alternate Care Sites.  Tony York, author of Hospital and Healthcare Security and member of the Security Design Guidelines Task Force highlighted five key components of the guidance document for Alternative Care Sites that include:

1) Establishing a clearly defined perimeter.  Given the introduction of an Alternate Care Site may be based on an immediate need and may not be a permanent physical structure, special attention should be paid to securing and monitoring the perimeter of the facility.

2) Restricting and controlling access to all entry and exit doors to the facility, where they exist.  The number of secured entrances should be limited.   Consider primary entry and exit from the facility for patients, with a separate and secured entry for staff and EMT.   Apply social distancing parameters to the designated entry so it can be scaled up or down based on need.

3) Leveraging the existing security features (access points, security, and video management systems) and other existing building technology systems should they exist.

4) Making the internal environment for authorized staff only.   This designation means minimizing visitation and requires clear communication, signage and wayfinding.

5) Providing for staff respite areas that are separate from patient care areas.  When possible, provide a bathroom for staff use only and a secure place for storing personal belongings, taking breaks, and eating.

To learn more about the best practices and principles surrounding Alternate Care Sites, download the IAHSS Guidance Document at