A trip to a hospital that cares for its patients and their security – in two languages
Industrious activity everywhere: that's the first impression that greets early-morning visitors to the fribourg hospital (HFR). Anyone walking through its corridors will hear voices speaking in both German and French. Operating in two languages is a key aspect of this hospital's philosophy. Various measures are in place to promote bilingualism, including an extensive programme of language courses for employees and targeted recruitment of bilingual staff. This makes communication easier, and the patients feel at ease during their stay.
Opened in 2007, this public hospital employs more than 3,400 staff at five locations in the canton of Freiburg/Fribourg – so close proximity to patients is ensured. Even so, the HFR is a hospital of manageable size that offers high-quality care. Investments in cutting-edge technology have made it one of the key players in the Swiss healthcare sector.
Each year, about 21,000 patients are treated in the facilities of the HFR hospital network. Half a million outpatient treatments are administered.
Nicolas Corpataux, the security officer, welcomed us for a discussion. He did not follow the usual career path at HFR – in fact, he started out as a pastry chef. After twelve years, he took the professional examination to qualify as a specialist in occupational safety and health protection with the Federal Diploma of Vocational Education and Training. Today, as head of security and safety, he is responsible for general security as well as health and safety at the workplace. His remit focuses mainly on aspects such as prevention and occupational accidents. As well as his professional position, Nicolas Corpataux also holds the post of Commander of the Villars-sur-Glâne Fire Brigade.
Staff at HFR are often confronted with aggressive behaviour from patients or relatives provoked by stress in response to injuries or illnesses. Protectas intervenes in situations such as these, usually on an emergency basis, so that everyone can go about their work again under the best possible conditions. Such cases can be discussed afterwards with a psychologist and the legal department. According to the hospital's security officer, a positive gesture towards patients is sometimes enough to tone down the aggression and restore the trust that is needed so they will cooperate during an examination.
One important aspect of the security arrangements is evacuation of the nursing units – especially the operating theatres. Efficient evacuation requires support from external services and appropriate training for the staff.
Another problem is posed by patients absconding. Cases of this sort peak in winter when the weather is cold and patients run the risk of freezing to death if they are not found promptly. To deal with this issue, the police and the nursing staff have collaborated to set up a special procedure with support from a video monitoring system.
When the time came to renew its contract for security services in 2018, the fribourg hospital opted for Protectas. Key factors in the award of the contract were the criteria for the guarantee of service quality and modern digital tools that could generate electronic reports. The first year of this working relationship was very fruitful. Mr Corpataux emphasises that Protectas can precisely identify HFR's specific requirements, not only in terms of the tasks to be performed but also as regards the profile for on-site security staff. To perform their tasks in the hospital environment, individuals on duty must be able to remain calm, listen well and show empathy.
Both parties maintain regular, open communication. Protectas has implemented pragmatic solutions in the fribourg hospital, and has introduced visualisation and management tools to support the staff with their daily work.
Choosing the new provider of security services presented one critical challenge: the successful candidate had to have access to security staff with the professional and personal qualities needed to ensure smooth relations with patients and nursing staff. According to fribourg hospital, Protectas has met this challenge with flying colours so far.