Hennepin Healthcare has reduced the number of risk items entering its medical center since installing Metrasens Ultra.

Image courtesy of Metrasens

Workplace violence in health care settings is a common concern worldwide. Health systems have found that these incidents not only have a negative impact on the psychological and physical well-being of medical staff but also affect job motivation, leading to increased turnover, loss of productivity, and increased disability and absenteeism costs.

Knowing that this trend is unacceptable, leaders at Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis sought a solution to help it reduce the number of risk items entering its facilities but were unsure of the best way to address this complex problem in such a sensitive environment. The security team needed to balance safety with quality patient care and find a solution that wouldn’t interfere with the welcoming environment the system has created.

Daniel Hallberg, Hennepin Healthcare system security chief, marked two major factors before the onset of his search. First, he needed to find a solution that could address his emergency and acute psychiatric services departments, and second, he knew that traditional metal detectors did not fit the bill. After a rigorous process of validating partners and their technology, Hallberg and his leadership team approved using a product developed by detection technology maker Metrasens called the Metrasens Ultra.

Metrasens Ultra is a threat detection system that employs proprietary algorithms and advanced sensors for screening through its Xact ID software. The versatile system can be wall-mounted, free-standing and used indoors or outdoors. Its five-zone screening scans visitors from head to toe at a distance and allows security staff to pinpoint the exact location of risk items on a person.

“Metrasens Ultra is the perfect fit for our needs,” Hallberg says. “It’s effective and discreet and has helped us identify risks and likely prevent security incidents.”

Before implementing Metrasens Ultra at the system’s Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), medical staff there expressed concern about the number of weapons and other risk items entering their emergency and acute psychiatric services departments. While the presence of guns is a top concern, so is the presence of knives, other bladed items and blunt metal objects that, when used as weapons, represent a threat.

The emergency department at HCMC is one of the busiest in the state of Minnesota, with more than 80,000 visits annually. Add to that more than 12,000 visits to the adult psychiatric services department annually, and this makes HCMC a bustling, urban health care facility.

With Metrasens Ultra, the security staff at Hennepin County Medical Center can identify the presence of all types of risk items, not just guns, profiled for their level of risk in potential harm to staff or patients themselves.

“Metrasens Ultra is highly sensitive and precise, and can detect even the smallest risk items on or inside a person’s body,” Hallberg says. “It not only gives us much confidence that we are catching everything but that we know where something is before we take action to intervene.”

In the first five months since the implementation of people screening with Metrasens Ultra, HCMC has prevented the entry of approximately 2,500 risk items, including guns and knives.

It’s not only the numbers that are impressive but the resulting impact of those numbers.

“Even the number of actual security calls for service has declined in the emergency department,” Hallberg says. “So with both quantitative and qualitative findings, we know that we have made the right decision.”

Patients and other visitors have also expressed positive feedback.

“Patients and visitors are commenting positively, saying that we should have put these metal detectors in a while ago,” Hallberg says. “It speaks to both their confidence in the systems and their comfort in having them in the health care facility they choose to get their care. That is one of the biggest benefits ­— knowing that we have achieved the balance we intended with satisfaction from staff and patients.

“With the success we have demonstrated in the emergency department and adult psychiatric services department, other departments and clinics are interested in the Metrasens Ultra solution,” Hallberg adds.