In a bid to fortify security measures and enhance safety protocols, Virtua Health and Wellness Center-Berlin has implemented state-of-the-art Evolv technology in its emergency department.
The touchless security screening system – driven by AI (artificial intelligence) – aims to improve security by replacing traditional metal detectors. Greg Pease, assistant vice president of safety and security in outpatient services at Virtua, provided insights on the system’s impact and effectiveness.
Installed at Virtua in December, Evolv utilizes advanced AI algorithms to detect concealed weapons and potential health threats without the need for physical contact. Pease emphasized that the hospital has implemented an amnesty box resembling a mailbox, allowing individuals to voluntarily surrender any prohibited weapons without facing legal consequences.
“As you walk through the system, it will detect any metal and display the findings on an iPad located nearby,” Pease told The Sun. “Our main goal was to invest in a security system that ensures the safety of our patients while minimizing intrusion.”
Along with Berlin, the Evolv system is operational at other Virtua properties: Virtua Health and Wellness Center-Camden; the main entrance to Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, also in Camden; and the emergency department entrance at Virtua-Willingboro Hospital. Phase II of installation will add five Evolv systems at Virtua-Voorhees due to its larger size.
Pease reported positive feedback from both patients and staff, noting that the new technology’s touchless screening system has contributed to a sense of security from patients who also appreciate its non-intrusive nature and how it ensures swift screening without detracting from safety.
The Evolv system primarily focuses on detecting weapons of mass destruction, large handguns and explosives. Pease shared the example of an incident where the system identified a bullet inadvertently brought into the hospital by a patient.
Communication is key with the system, according to Pease, who noted the importance of clear signage that warns weapons are strictly prohibited on hospital grounds.
“We don’t want to discard valuable items, and for items like knives received as gifts, we will confiscate them, store them securely, and return them to the owner upon departure,” he said.
Pease said that along with confiscating a weapon, the hospital also has to notify local law enforcement. Touchdown stations were established at Virtua-Berlin so there is a designated area for police to complete reports, use computers and interview witnesses.
Jackie Fish, nursing director of Virtua-Berlin and Camden, expressed satisfaction with the new security system. She called Evolv a “huge staff satisfier” that has made both patients and staff feel more comfortable.