Mike Posey Is Listening
Mike Posey is just settling in as Cincinnati Children’s new senior director of Protective Services, but he’s familiar with the lay of the land, having previously served as senior director of public safety at UC Health for 12 years.
In his former role, Mike was responsible for public safety, telecommunications, dispatch, emergency management, parking, badging and access at the UC Health Avondale campus, West Chester, Drake and all their ambulatory sites. He now brings his extensive experience to bear here. There are lots of similarities, he says, but working in a pediatric health system is a whole different dynamic.
“In the adult world of healthcare, you’re dealing with an individual,” he explains. “In the pediatric setting, you have the patient and the parents or caregivers, who are typically stressed about what’s going on with their child. As a security officer, you have to put yourself in their shoes and think about how to manage emotionally charged situations. You need a specific skill set to successfully de-escalate and manage potentially challenging behavior.”
Finding His Niche
Mike was born in Killeen, TX, and is the middle child of five siblings.
A self-described “army brat,” he moved with his family to Mt. Auburn when he was very young. He attended Withrow High School and envisioned himself playing professional baseball, but he quickly realized he needed a fallback career plan. Initially, he chose to major in physical therapy, but when an academic advisor suggested criminal justice, something clicked, and he pursued his degree in the field from the Union Institute and University.
After graduating, he worked for a while at the Hamilton County Juvenile Detention Center and as a security supervisor. He also coached baseball in local public schools.
“I sort of stumbled into the healthcare aspect of security,” he says. “It opened up a whole new world for me.”
Since his first day at Cincinnati Children’s (Oct. 10), Mike has been busy with the “social engineering” phase of his job.
“The most important thing for me to do right now is to get out there, meet all of our stakeholders—people who have boots on the ground—and get their input,” he says. “I want to hear about what they’re experiencing in their areas and find out what they think. Then, based on their feedback, we will start to build our strategy regarding how to improve current processes and implement new ones where they’re needed.”
That strategy will align with four pillars:
- Training—educating people about best practices and available tools that can keep them safe.
- Technology—leveraging computer systems, applications and other electronic components to improve safety.
- Policies—evaluating which policies may need to be modified or added to address safety.
- Staffing—analyzing our team structure to ensure we are staffed appropriately and that we have the right people in the right roles.
A Changing World
Safety and security are at the forefront of people’s concerns as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and are bombarded with news of mass shootings almost daily. Prior to Mike’s arrival here, Cincinnati Children’s conducted a risk assessment and decided to implement a weapons detection system in our Burnet and Liberty emergency departments and the main entrance at College Hill.
Says Mike, “The conversations about installing such systems are common among healthcare organizations. Some worry we might create a negative impression that could frighten people. But adding weapons detection systems is happening in schools and grocery stores, sporting events and even churches. It’s a cultural change, not just for Cincinnati Children’s but for all of society.
“The truth is that if we’re going to be the number-one pediatric healthcare system in the country, we have to make sure our patients and families are safe. If we want to attract the top talent to our organization, we have to make our staff feel safe. The more you talk to people in the community, the more you learn that they want us to prioritize safety, that they want us to do everything we can to protect them.”
Mike speaks from personal experience. He was on staff in 2017 when an active assailant approached the entrance to UC Health’s psychiatric facility on Burnet Avenue next to the Kasota building and opened fire, twice wounding a security officer before turning the gun on himself.
“That incident was eye-opening for a lot of people,” says Mike, “and it marked a shift in our approach to how we secure access to our facilities.”
Weapons detection is only part of what can be done to improve safety. There are other technological enhancements and additional training tailored to specific areas that can be implemented. For instance, we have equipped selected staff at College Hill, Liberty Campus and the Burnet Campus ED with personal panic devices. These are small, discreet buttons attached to their badge.
“Ultimately, society will dictate what our next actions will be,” says Mike. “We just have to be prepared to have realistic discussions about how to get where we need to be. For now, I’m doing a lot of listening and learning about the Cincinnati Children’s culture.”
A Shared Responsibility
Mike’s goal for Protective Services is to be globally recognized as a number-one high-performing department with a best-in-class workplace violence program.
But as skilled and prepared as our Protective Services officers are, they can’t maintain a safe workplace on their own. Employees have a key role to play too.
“One of the most important things staff can do is pay attention to their surroundings,” says Mike. “Don’t position yourself to be a victim. And don’t get too complacent. Some people think, ‘I’ve worked here for 20 years, and nothing has ever happened to me. The past is not a predictor of the future. Focus on being your own first responder. Your safety starts with you.”
Cincinnati Children’s has emphasized its ongoing commitment to provide a safe and healing environment for employees and everyone who walks through our doors. Mike is confident in our ability to live up to that pledge.
“We have a great foundation—some really good and talented people in our department,” he says. “I firmly believe in collaboration, in building relationships and learning from each other. It all starts with being a good listener and keeping an open mind. If we can take that approach to our challenges, it’s going to make us all better—and safer.”