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Canal View gets thermal face recognition system

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Kim Salmi, administrator for Canal View - Houghton County, demonstrates the thermal face recognition system the facility recently acquired. The new system for employee screenings began use Wednesday.

HANCOCK — Canal View – Houghton County launched a new thermal face recognition system Wednesday to screen employees, becoming the second Upper Peninsula facility to have one.

The devices can identify employees and scan for a possible fever, which would cause them to be sent home. It frees up staff who had been stationed at the entry for manual screenings since the COVID-19 outbreak began, Administrator Kim Salmi said. It is also faster.

“This is completely touchless, so I just bend down, it takes my picture, and that’s all I have to do,” she said.

Employees are required to be screened twice during an eight-hour shift. They also take a questionnaire of symptoms related to COVID-19, which helps establish a baseline; for instance, someone might have a stuffy nose related to allergies, Salmi said.

Upon checking in, employees will stand in front of the kiosk, which identifies them by their face and performs a thermal scan. The system works even when employees wear masks, Salmi said.

The kiosks can be programmed with a range of acceptable temperatures for entry. If someone tests outside the window, it will flash “admittance denied.” If a second temperature check is still too high, they will be manually screened.

Whenever Canal View returns to open visitation, the kiosk can be used not just for temperature checks, but to deny entry for people not wearing a mask, Salmi said.

An employee is still stationed at the entry for the first week as they work through initial glitches, Salmi said.

“There’s been a couple of people that have shown up as a different person, so we had them retake their picture,” she said. “We kind of anticipated little hiccups … the temperatures have been pretty accurate.”

The kiosks, which cost about $2,000 each, were funded through the CARES Act. Canal View also received iPads for residents to talk with their families on FaceTime. They have also used webcams to communicate with health providers

“We’ve been able to purchase a couple different things with the grants that have made this easier without compromising the resident experience,” Salmi said.

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