Retirement Community Automates COVID-19/Health Screening with Savance to Protect High-Risk Residents & Staff
- A Savance EIOBoard Client Case Study
"The pandemic was the challenge, and that's what made us look for a solution. We were looking for an access control and screening solution for an unprecedented pandemic. None of us was necessarily equipped to deal with that."
Charles Hudgens, Security and Transportation Manager, The Forest at Duke
Custom-branded visitor and staff health screening kiosk with temperature scanner, UV cleaner, and other accessories
Founded in the 1980s, The Forest at Duke is a North Carolina-based retirement community with a mission to foster the independence of residents by enhancing their capability to lead purposeful, active, healthy, and secure lives, while living in a caring, responsible community.
The year 2020 brought unprecedented challenges to any organization and industry, and, for obvious reasons, retirement communities were particularly vulnerable in their nature. Charles Hudgens, Security and Transportation Manager at The Forest at Duke, explains how COVID-19 quickly made The Forest at Duke look for a solution to handle not just health screening but also access control. "At the time, there was no process for anything like that. We instituted a paper process, which turned out to be significantly more problematic as it required countless man hours for people to sit there and manage the screening stations. About a week in, that solution no longer met our needs."
"We instituted a paper process, which turned out to be significantly more problematic as it required countless man hours for people to sit there and manage the screening stations"
The Forest at Duke team started looking for a solution that could automate the health screening process as well as control access by integrating with the organization's existing PDK access control system. "In addition to removing people out of the equation, and the ever troublesome human error, we also needed a process that could assess people coming in," explains Charles Hudgens.
The organization researched multiple options before landing on Savance. "We were looking at several solutions before we were introduced to Savance," says Hudgens. "There were a couple of competitors and kiosks and software solutions that we were considering. Some had some niche features such as recognizing if someone wasn't wearing a mask, and things of that nature."
"It streamlined the process, took the paper out of the equation, and removed the need for an actual person to man the screening station"
As part of the solution search, Hudgens reached out to The Forest at Duke's access control integrator, Modern Systems, and this is where the search ended. "David at Modern Systems had a very good solution for us," he says. "It streamlined the process, took the paper out of the equation, and removed the need for an actual person to man the screening station."
Modern Systems' David Hudson was initially introduced to the Savance through a recommendation from another partner, PDK, and the two parties first met at the PDK Cloud Access Summit dealer show. "We started off doing a Visitor Management system for a different retirement community, Glenaire, prior to COVID, and had plans to roll out similar systems to Forest at Duke, Arbor Acres, and others where we saw opportunities to automate the visitor management process," Hudson explains. "When COVID hit, I immediately realized the value of the screening solution to my customers, and we put it to use at Glenaire right away, with others to follow."
Hudson explains that many of his customers still use paper-based solutions, and rotate staff in order to be able to screen visitors, staff, and residents. He has already introduced several to the Savance system, The Forest at Duke included. "COVID happened so fast that nobody really had a process other than pencil and paper," he says. "In addition to being a manpower problem, this kind of manual process is obviously not reliable for contract tracing, something that's required by the state's Health Department. Having a staff-managed screening process also puts the staff screeners at increased risk of direct exposure.
"When COVID hit, I immediately realized the value of the screening solution to my customers, and we put it to use at Glenaire right away, with others to follow"
There were multiple things to take into consideration before recommending his customers to implement a COVID-19 screening solution from Savance. In The Forest at Duke's case, this included access control integration with the organization's PDK system. "One of the goals that was really important to me was having a reliable manufacturer partner to be able to integrate with the PDK access control system," Hudson explains. "Our partnership with Savance may have started out with a visitor check-in system for another customer, but when COVID came along, Savance was quick to adapt and align to provide solutions for COVID screening. This showed me that they are a serious IT company, and it was just a natural fit at that point."
The expected level of support is something else that David Hudson takes into consideration before making a recommendation to his customers. "I want to work with someone that I can count on and that will be reliable," he says. "A big part of this is support. It's always key to me. No matter how reliable a system is, you have to have good support to back it."
"My relationship with Savance is based on David's recommendation and his endorsement, because we've had such success with his team before"
As a final example, the fact that Savance customizes each solution to the end user is something that Hudson considers a huge benefit that also makes Savance stand out among competitors. "I like how the solution can be customized to each customer, when it comes to appearance and branding and questions," he says. "I really can't speak highly enough about the customization. From the appearance to the reporting, all aspects of the solution are truly tailored to the end user."
Because of The Forest at Duke's existing relationship with David Hudson and Modern Systems, their decision was initially based almost entirely on Hudson's recommendation. "To be completely transparent, my relationship with Savance is based on David's recommendation and his endorsement, because we've had such success with his team before," says Charles Hudgens. "When it comes to Savance and this particular project, David gave me a lot of insight into the flexibility and the potential of the system, something that ended up being key as we moved forward. Our processes are constantly evolving, as we continue to learn more about COVID-19, and a flexible system is a must."
"Based on screening responses or the equipment assessment, the parties that the kiosk determined were symptomatic are simply not allowed access to the property"
The Savance system implemented at The Forest at Duke consists of a cloud-hosted COVID-19/health screening solution for visitors and staff. Each custom-branded 22" Health Screening kiosk was equipped with a temperature scanner, and the screening questions were specifically developed for The Forest at Duke. The process can also easily be updated as COVID-19 continues to evolve. UV cleaners help automate cleaning procedures to further increase safety of residents, visitors, and staff, and prox readers and barcode readers speed up sign in and sign out. In a post-pandemic future, the solution can easily be turned into a complete Visitor Management system, something that The Forest at Duke was very excited about.
In addition to the basics above, a very important part of the puzzle was the integration with PDK, which allows the Savance screening solution to work in tandem with the access control system in order to control door access based on screening results.
Charles Hudgens explains. "The way we worked our system through Savance was by tying it directly into our PDK access control system. Based on screening responses or the equipment assessment, the parties that the kiosk determined were symptomatic are simply not allowed access to the property. This alleviates a lot of the concern in regards to potential contamination or anything of that nature."
"What we were looking for with the solution is really something that would take the judgment out of it and make the entire process very fact-based"
Hudgens further explains that The Forest at Duke has been a bit extra cautious both when it comes to allowable temperatures and to the questionnaire as a whole, and that this is due to the nature of a retirement community. "Our stringency when it comes to temperature requirements and our questionnaire could be construed as a bit of an overreaction, but we'd rather err on the side of caution" he says. "What we were looking for with the solution is really something that would take the judgment out of it and make the entire process very fact-based."
Like with any custom project, the implementation phase included a few challenges to be solved before the system was put into operation at The Forest at Duke. In this case, challenges were primarily due to existing processes at The Forest at Duke, as well as to sudden changes and additions requested by The Forest at Duke as the pandemic continued to develop. "Initially, our trust in David and his team was a big reason we chose to work with Savance," says Charles Hudgens. "However, after we started the roll-out process, my campus has had a lot of abstract requests, and the Savance team has been essential in accommodating the far-reaching things we've come up with at any given point. I really appreciate the speed at which these requests have been addressed."
"The Savance team has been essential in accommodating the far-reaching things we've come up with at any given point"
The biggest implementation challenge in Hudgens' mind was the creation of the continuous sync process that The Forest at Duke required. However, once completed, the new automated process was a huge time saver. "We have a lot of credentials that have to be ported over on a continuous basis, and the continuous sync was an essential part of things since syncing in batches was very time-consuming," he explains. "When that actually started to take place on its own, independently, that was very convenient."
Almost all other matters as far as the implementation was concerned were due to campus requests." There weren't many software-specific issues so much as there was tweaking of the system to do what we needed, which was trial and error in discovery," Hudgens concludes.
Modern Systems' David Hudson chimes in. "You always have challenges when implementing a solution like this, especially when dealing with new technology," he says. "As far as working through these challenges, Savance was always there for us. There were a lot of pieces that needed to fit together - working with Savance, PDK, and an outsourced IT group - but we were able to line up all parties and get the project completed successfully."
"They had a good understanding of what they needed and we were able to make sure that the Savance Health Screening and door control system catered specifically to those needs."
Charles Hudgens agrees that the support has been very satisfactory, throughout the implementation phase as well as following it. "I can always reach out to anyone and get a very quick response," he says. "I get immediate results. Even things that I just talk about in a theoretical sense, I know that people are looking into and considering the viability of. I like that everything is taken to heart and that I get real responses."
Dan Thibodeau, Support & Implementation Engineer at Savance, worked closely with The Forest at Duke and Modern Systems on the implementation of the Savance system. "Working with David's team at Modern Systems and Charles from Forest at Duke was an excellent experience," he says. "They had a good understanding of what they needed and we were able to make sure that the Savance Health Screening and door control system catered specifically to those needs."
Results & Benefits
Since implementing its Savance Health Screening solution, The Forest at Duke has seen a number of both anticipated and unanticipated advantages and benefits, the main one being the protection of teammates and high risk residents. "The greatest benefit so far is that we have successfully identified and deterred multiple people who were exposed and risked potential exposure to our residents and our other teammates," says Charles Hudgens, and adds that the access control integration has been key to the solution's success at The Forest at Duke. "The system is multifaceted and multifunctional, and at its primary goal set out to screen and keep residents and team members safe, it has excelled," he says. "Some of the added benefits include its relation to PDK when it comes to identifying those people that might otherwise not adhere to policies and protocols, so that has definitely been a very beneficial aspect."
"Some of the added benefits include its relation to PDK when it comes to identifying those people that might otherwise not adhere to policies and protocols so that has definitely been a very beneficial aspect."
From a time and money perspective, The Forest at Duke finds that the Savance Health Screening system saves them both. Hudgens explains, "The system definitely saves us both time and money, because we don't need anyone sitting at a screening station for 16 hours a day at each location taking temperatures and asking questions. We weren't scheduled for that in the real world, so people had to take time away from their regular jobs. We also weren't budgeted for the man hours to hire someone new to manage it." In fact, at 16 hours a day and 7 days a week, Hudgens estimates that they would have needed the equivalent of 2.5 FTE for each post, a need that has been eliminated with the automated screening kiosks.
"The flexibility of how Savance operates with PDK on the back-end turned into something we can use in ways we never thought we'd be able to use it"
A benefit that The Forest at Duke was not anticipating was the flexibility of the Savance system as this aspect of Savance's solutions allows an organization to build onto an existing system by adding new features and tools to improve business operations. "The flexibility factor ended up being a significant and unanticipated advantage for us," explains Charles Hudgens. "The flexibility of how Savance operates with PDK on the back-end turned into something we can use in ways we never thought we'd be able to use it."
In The Forest at Duke's case, one potential use case that the organization envisions could be useful is employee time tracking. "From our perspective, it started entirely as a means of screening and then also wound up being able to control door access," says Hudgens. "However, we found that we can also use it for time keeping purposes, references to adherence to schedules and things like that, because we require all our employees to screen as soon as they arrive on the property."
"Every issue I have gets fixed. Every idea that I have gets addressed exceedingly quick"
As far as flexibility goes, the ease of converting a Health Screening kiosk into a complete Visitor Management system has already been mentioned. Another Savance solution that could be useful for an organization like The Forest at Duke is Emergency Mustering, a straightforward and easy-to-use tool that would help them account for residents, staff, and visitors in case of an emergency.
Although most direct benefits of The Forest at Duke's new Savance system relate to the end-user, the project also included some valuable takeaways for Modern Systems. "We have installed a number of Savance solutions at this point, COVID solutions in particular, and the way The Forest at Duke system is installed is how I recommend all these solutions be installed going forward," says David Hudson. "It integrates seamlessly with the access control system to control the doors. Everything works spectacularly."
"In facilities without door control, it's kind of hit or miss whether someone will be going by the screening kiosk"
Hudson compares this setup to the setup at facilities without door control. "In facilities without door control, it's kind of hit or miss whether someone will be going by the screening kiosk," he says. "The way it's done at the Forest at Duke is if you don't go through screening, you don't get into the building. It's pretty cut and dry. I highly recommend this solution, and this particular setup, to anyone that's looking for a COVID solution or wants to enhance an existing solution."
Overall, The Forest at Duke is very happy with the project and with Savance as a company. "For anyone considering Savance and its solutions, I would say that, hands down, it is going to exceed your expectations," Charles Hudgens concludes. "As a company, Savance is definitely one of the better vendors that I have had the pleasure of interacting with. Every issue I have gets fixed. Every idea that I have gets addressed exceedingly quick."
"Our system was key to getting their facilities running safely and reliably in a time of uncertainty"
Modern Systems is also satisfied with how the project turned out: "What we like most about working with Savance is that everything is customized, not only for the end-user but for us as the dealer," says David Hudson. "Savance is a great company to work with. What they say, they do, and they back up what they say."
From Savance's perspective, we're very happy to be able to help high-risk organizations like The Forest at Duke improve safety procedures and free up staff in these unprecedented times. "Our system was key to getting their facilities running safely and reliably in a time of uncertainty," says Savance's Dan Thibodeau. "It has added safety and peace of mind for residents, staff, and visitors."