Baptist Announces New System Director of Security Position, Hires Former Memphis Police Department Director

Baptist is excited to announce a new leadership position that will enhance security across the system. Next week, Michael Rallings is joining Baptist as system director of security. The former Memphis Police Department Director brings with him decades of experience in law enforcement and is now eager to dive into the world of health care.

Michael will work closely with Nick Lewis, system director of environmental safety, facilities and compliance. We talked with Nick and Michael about this exciting new position.

Why was the position of system director of security created?

Nick Lewis:
We’ve done numerous things over the last 10 years to enhance our programs, but one of the things we recognize is that we need to apply greater focus specifically on our security programs across the portfolio – not only at our hospitals, but at our Baptist Medical Group clinics, our off-site business occupancies like our centralized billing offices and the Baptist Health Sciences University. We have a large area to cover with facilities in three states.

We need a direct focus on our security programs. We’ve always monitored and supported them and provided the tools necessary, but, as you see from my title, there’s multiple areas that I oversee, and the new position will allow us to truly dive into the day-to-day support of operations and opportunities that come up with a security program in health care.

A couple years ago we developed a system security task force that was led by myself and Greg Duckett, Baptist senior vice president and chief legal officer. We worked with that team and leadership to get this position approved.

We did a national search and had some very strong internal candidates and applicants from Upper New York State all the way down to the southern tip of Florida, and from the East Coast all the way to the West Coast, along with a few candidates from Canada. We had a lot of interest and a very thorough review process.

We felt it was important to identify the right individual, the right leader. Fortunately for us, we were able to convince Mr. Rallings to come to work for Baptist.

What attracted you to Baptist?

Michael Rallings:
Oh, that’s an easy one. I have a very long history with Baptist. They helped prolong the lives of both of my parents, who unfortunately have both passed away. I spent a lot of time at Baptist.

Baptist is one of the main providers for the City of Memphis, and with my last job as director of police, we had a free employee clinic at City Hall and one on Union Avenue where we could go and receive minor medical treatment, and I’ve been treated at other Baptist facilities.

The mission and vision of Baptist align with my personal mission, vision and values. So, for me it’s an easy choice. I’m happy that Baptist selected me. And I’m excited and ready to get to work.

 Will you spend time at hospitals throughout the Baptist system?

Nick Lewis:
Mr. Rallings will be based out of the corporate office, but just like myself and other team members, he will spend time out in the facilities in support of the teams there.

Michael Rallings:
I’ve served in a few leadership positions and anytime you have a large organization with different facilities, different challenges, different communities, I think one of the key things the leader must do is get out and meet people and make sure you understand the nature of the challenges and provide support for them to accomplish their mission.

I think Mr. Lewis tied it all together perfectly. You’ve got to get out and know what’s going on or you can’t understand the problem or the challenges firsthand. And you get to see the wonderful things that team members are doing. I’m confident the Baptist team is already doing great work and we want to continue those things.

What do you expect to be your biggest challenges?

Michael Rallings:
COVID colors everything right now. We know that there is a worker shortage across the United States and with COVID, I think that will continue to be a challenge, but the second thing probably will be learning and understanding the hospital environment. I’m coming from law enforcement and the military. I have a pretty good foundation for understanding very diverse communities and dealing with new challenges. But again, I’m not naïve to the fact that coming into the hospital environment. I’ll have a lot to learn. Baptist has a great team, and I’m sure that I’ll be given the support I need. I’ll be there to try to help be a conduit for all the facilities and personnel.

According to the 2021 Healthcare Crime Survey, conducted by the International Association for Healthcare Security & Safety (IAHSS Foundation), disorderly conduct and assault are the biggest problems facing hospitals nationwide. Have there been more problems lately with patients or families being disruptive at Baptist facilities?

Nick Lewis:
I think if you look at our numbers compared to prior to the pandemic they would be almost flat, but we are allowing fewer people inside of our buildings since the pandemic started. So, that reduces risk points.

The numbers don’t necessarily tell the full story. I think our leaders in the hospitals and clinics would tell you that yes, they are up because people are on edge. There’s the additional stressor of the pandemic, and we’ve tightened down on how we allow people in and to move about inside our facilities, and that’s created more stressors because people want to be with their loved ones when they’re in the hospital. Sometimes disruptions are induced by drugs or alcohol. The disruptions don’t happen a lot, but more than we want.

With Mr. Rallings in place with the new position, we’ll be able to assess our existing programs and move toward an enhanced focus on security. We’ll identify ways that we can get better and improve existing programs and create an even safer work environment for our team members and our patients and those who come into the buildings.

We’ll be able to make recommendations for improvement not only at the entity level and operational level, but also at the system level so that we can build standardization that again helps us develop programs that lead to safer places, safer campuses. While we do have safe campuses now, we want them to be as safe as they can possibly be.

What are some of the responsibilities for system director of security?

Nick Lewis:
We have a safety, health and environmental committee that’s made up of the safety and security leaders, risk managers and numerous other departmental leaders across the organization. They’ve been key to helping us develop the concept of the role and the job description and what we were looking for in a security leader.

Some responsibilities of the position are to steer and standardize our security programs and assist our facilities with day-to-day operational support for security programs.

We can’t standardize the security programs until we have a better idea of their current state, so one of the first opportunities we will take on is moving throughout the system to work with the facilities to identify those areas of opportunity and strengths.

We’ll identify areas of opportunity with consistent assessments and partner with the facilities to get things that are identified as opportunities corrected, whether through capital requests or operational dollar spend or even budgeting for the next fiscal year.

Health care is one of the most regulated industries in the United States, and it takes a lot of attention to stay in compliance. So, the position will help support the system in ensuring compliance with our regulatory bodies focusing on standards associated with security and safety.

What would you like to add?

Michael Rallings:
I know that Baptist is a great organization, one of the largest health care organizations in the nation, and from my experience working with the Memphis Police Department, I know that Baptist has been doing a great job with keeping their campuses and facilities safe.

We know that Memphis has several challenges that other cities don’t have, and campuses in other states and other areas within our state have their own set of challenges or opportunities, but they’re also doing some very good things. So, my first goal will be very simple: Continue to build on the culture of safety at Baptist. And where we see opportunities, we want to take advantage of those opportunities. I’m excited to be able to come on board and face these challenges. I’m looking forward to it.

Nick Lewis:
I’m tickled pink that Mr. Rallings is joining the Baptist family. I’m especially thankful that he’s joining my team and I’ll be able to work alongside him and support him as he takes on this challenging, yet fun role that is going to be first for him and a first for the organization. We’ve never had a system director of security. I’m excited for him to start on Feb. 7, and we’re going to hit the ground running.