As part of its new vision for healthcare, Simi Valley Hospital in Ventura County, California - one of 17 hospitals in the Adventist Health system - recently invested more than $75 million to enhance the healing environment at its world-class hospital with a 144-bed Patient Care Tower. Designed to combine patient comfort with state-of-the-art technology, the facility boasts comfortable and soothing hotel-like patient rooms, an expanded 24-bed Intensive Care unit, and a dedicated Women's and Children's Services department which includes a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
All of this wasn't enough for hospital administrators, who have added an important upgrade since completing construction: improved wireless service inside the building so that patients, visitors and healthcare professionals could easily make connections to others outside the hospital by mobile phone. With the installation of ExteNet Systems' indoor distributed network (also called a distributed antenna system - DAS) using 'iDuct' technology, the new facility enables exceptional indoor mobile communications to keep doctors, emergency responders, patients and their families connected.
"ExteNet met our unique needs for both thorough and affordable coverage, as well as discreet, efficient installation with minimal disruptions," said Greg Eslinger, Simi Valley Hospital's telecommunications manager. "With this system in place, physicians can now respond to patient needs in a timely manner, and patients and visitors can keep in touch with loved ones - both important components of wellness and recovery."
The Indoor Wireless Challenge Mobile phone service is a must-have for on-call doctors and medical staff, as they rely on mobile devices. Not only can they keep in contact with clinics and patients to ensure responsive care, they also receive ongoing access to important text messaging, emails, and other types of critical healthcare data. For many patients and their families who don't use landline service (which currently includes 1-in-4 American households), mobile service is their only means of communication.
"It is not uncommon across America - people must walk outdoors to make mobile phone calls because it is difficult to make or hold a call with poor indoor wireless
coverage," said Tormod Larsen, ExteNet Systems' chief technology officer. "This is not only inconvenient, but also impacts the quality of care - when physicians and medical staff are unable to make and receive calls inside the building, there is an increased barrier to providing optimum health care."
Expanding Coverage with iDuct ExteNet's iDuct leverages the Simi Valley Hospital Patient Tower's existing heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system, by carrying wireless signals through the metal ductwork. Verizon and T-Mobile are already on the network, with other carriers set to provide wireless service soon. Unlike traditional indoor network technologies, which typically require numerous antennas and miles of cabling, ExteNet's iDuct system uses only a handful of wireless probes (small antennas) distributed inside the HVAC metal ductwork. These probes are then connected to one or more base transceiver station hubs, and 190,000 square feet, including the entire Patient Care Tower as well as the Garden Level is lit up for mobile coverage.
iDuct's unique use of existing HVAC ductwork efficiently distributes the required radio signals with absolutely no affect on the aesthetics of the new facility. With a minimally invasive installation process, the deployment had virtually no impact on workflow or delivery of healthcare.
With its open distributed network architecture, scalability and shared costs, the system offers wireless coverage to multiple wireless carriers. This offers the flexibility to meet future wireless growth and technological needs.
"In addition to its ease of installation and affordability, ExteNet's network enables us to comply with federal and state efforts to improve connectivity within our facilities in order to streamline patient care," said Carl Elkins, regional CIO for Adventist Health. "As we move toward the widespread implementation of electronic medical records systems, reliable indoor wireless services like ExteNet's iDuct will be critical to the success of these initiatives - here at Simi Valley and at hospitals across the country."