Growing hospital deploys new network

Taps worldwide company Brocade
By Bernie Monegain
11:00 AM

To provide the infrastructure for a future emergency department and the transition to a McKesson electronic health record system, Comanche County Memorial Hospital in Lawton, Okla., is poised to roll out a new high performance, end-to-end data center network.

The new network will provide 10 times the capacity of the hospital's existing network, hospitals officials say, and it will also create a fully redundant network architecture that scales to meet future data and device demands.

Comanche County Memorial Hospital is one of the largest county hospitals in Oklahoma. It provides obstetrics and gynecology, cardiology, neurology, orthopedic, surgical, family, rehabilitation and emergency services. It employs more than 1,500 staff members and 250 physicians.

The hospital needed a network solution that would enable a broader set of patient services, increased delivery speed of patient care, and extended communication services to emergency rooms and other hospital facilities, said Comanche County Memorial Hospital CIO James Wellman. "A robust network is pivotal in helping the hospital maintain its core mission of helping its employees and patients live better, healthier lives," he said in a news release.

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"Support from family and friends can be the best medicine for our patients, so we've made it our goal to keep families closer to home by investing in improving our technology and facilities," Wellman added. "The hospital is always expanding its network of services, embracing change continually to improve service through growth, expansion and the addition of improvements in technology and specialty care."

During the past 40 years, patient load at Comanche's emergency department has increased from 40 patients per day to approximately 55,000 visits annually.

The hospital is building a new 36-bed emergency department, slated for completion in spring 2015. Telemedicine carts will help the new emergency department respond to patient health needs faster by making data accessible anywhere in the hospital -- from the emergency check-in desk to the radiology department, and every other department, for a seamless patient experience.

With a 20 Gigabit ethernet network backbone, the hospital can support the latest advances in telemedicine and radiology, while implementing cost-saving business applications such as voice over IP, hospital officials noted.

[See also: Kaiser eyes outcomes with new network.]

The demands of the new department -- plus an urgent need for improvements in storage capacity, backup capabilities, and data center efficiency -- initially brought Comanche County Memorial Hospital to Brocade. Working with Brocade partner T2 Technology Group, the hospital deployed an end-to-end networking environment consisting of SAN switches and routers. The new infrastructure almost immediately delivered a tenfold increase in network capacity and created a fully redundant network architecture that could scale to meet the hospital's future needs.

"As the hospital adds new systems, we can bring in more networking gear and drop more cabling easily to support our improvements," said Jeremy Wood, network administrator at Comanche County Memorial Hospital, in a statement. "The gear is based on industry standards rather than proprietary protocols. We can leverage that openness when we bring in other platforms and systems."