The Department of Health’s Fort Beaufort Tower Psychiatric Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre was plagued by theft of assets and periodic attacks on doctors. Established in 1894 as an asylum for the mentally challenged in Fort Beaufort in the Eastern Cape, the facility today houses a number of mentally ill patients, some of whom exhibit violent behaviour.
Security at the facilities was virtually non-existent and required urgent attention. Some of the issues faced by the hospital included patient safety, doctor safety, kitchen stock theft, linen theft, uncontrolled access of people to sensitive areas and the inability to trace the source of office breakages.
Justice Zotwaa, CEO of Sonke Consulting, explains that the Department of Health Eastern Cape issued a tender and his company was subsequently appointed to implement viable solutions to mitigate the risk profile at the facility. “Due to the fact that they had absolutely no security system in place, they were unable to control the access of patients, medical staff and visitors and therefore traceability of stolen items was nigh impossible. In addition, attacks on doctors by patients had become a very pressing issue.”
Sonke Consulting leveraged its existing relationship with wireless IP convergence company MiRO to design, develop and implement a wireless solution that would meet all the predetermined specifications for a safer and more secure environment. Dave Rampersad, senior solutions engineer at MiRO, says that a combination of Sunell IP surveillance cameras and an Ubiquiti wireless network was chosen due to the outstanding results achieved by both brands in the market.
“The wireless links allowed us to seamlessly link the numerous buildings scattered over the 2,5 ha hospital property, without the need for expensive and intrusive trenching and cabling. The Ubiquiti point-to-point/point-to-multi-point system provides connectivity over distances of 1 km. This results in speed throughput of 300 mbps full duplex, which therefore guarantees service for video streaming using Ubiquiti’s Airmax protocol,” says Rampersad, who is a Ubiquiti certified wireless administrator (UCWA).
There are 159 Sunell IP cameras deployed in the various buildings and these provide comprehensive surveillance which allows security staff to monitor the passageways, reception areas, perimeter of the buildings and property, as well as sensitive areas such as the medical supplies storeroom.
“We selected a combination of bullet, mini bullet, HD speed dome, vandal dome and vandal mini dome Sunell cameras to cater for the variety of locations and surveillance requirements throughout the installation. For instance, the 50 outdoor bullet cameras have two-way audio to enable control room personnel to communicate with medical personnel and patients who are in the vicinity,” Rampersad explains.
The access control system also resides on the wireless infrastructure and is installed in sensitive areas and on strategic doorways. Automated boom gates and a state-of-the-art control room complete the system.
Progress on this challenging and exciting project was monitored through the implementation of project management techniques and frameworks such as Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) and IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) over the two-month installation and commissioning period.
Zotwaa says that the original intention of providing a more secure environment for the Department of Health Eastern Cape has been achieved. “The new system has provided us with a much better overview of the entire institution. We are able to see who is at work and who is stealing assets. Not only has the system given us a high level of security but it has also made management of the institution much more effective,” says the hospital’s chief executive, Mrs Ngcume.
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