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Wireless/Mobility

Keep the wireless network healthy

LibertyHealth upgraded its wireless network to assure users had the 24-hour access needed by healthcare applications.

P

atients’ vital signs are not the only information LibertyHealth needs to monitor at its hospitals, health centers and other facilities in the Jersey City, N.J., region. From high-tech infant care and adult surgery to in-hospital rehabilitation and home- care services, the system’s medical personnel depend on a wide range of networked applications. These, in turn, depend on a reliable wireless network.

Nurses use bedside patient registration to streamline intake, doctors communicate with non-English-speaking patients through video-based translation services, and pharmacists keep track of drug dosages through a mobile supply inventory system. Most of these require wireless connectivity, which in a life-critical and time-sensitive environment means that the network’s health has to be constantly monitored. Until recently, the prognosis was grim. The wireless network in the emergency department proved to be unpredictable and often stopped working entirely over the weekend, forcing staff to go back to less-effi cient wired networks or manual systems. LibertyHealth solved its problems by virtualizing the wireless LAN, replacing the older system with a next-generation virtualized wire- less local area network (WLAN) that ensures optimum performance for every application, assuring staff that connectivity will be available when they need it most. LibertyHealth’s fi rst wireless network covered the emergency department at its Jersey City Medical Center (JCMC). It provided basic connectivity for patient reg- istration, but was not reliable enough to meet the 24/7 needs of emergency care.

“It would stop working at 6 p.m. on Fridays and be down for the entire weekend,” says Michael Verna, LibertyHealth’s technical support manager. “We had no idea why this was happening. We wanted to not only fi x that situation, but also expand bedside registration beyond the emergency department and add new wireless applications that require seamless roaming.” Verna investigated multiple wireless systems, but most could not offer the assurance of reliable coverage that his applications needed. “Of the wireless vendors we looked

26 April 2010

Michael Verna, LibertyHealth’s technical support manager, wanted to expand bedside registration beyond the emergency department and add new wireless applications that require seamless roaming.

at – including our incumbent switch and router vendor – only Meru Networks offered to install a pilot network,” he says. “The weekend the Meru WLAN went up was the fi rst time we got no complaints from the emergency department – all our coverage issues had gone away.” As a result, LibertyHealth deployed Meru Networks’

WLAN architecture throughout its hospitals to provide 24/7 facility-wide wireless access to its staff, patients and visitors. Installed in 2008 in both the JCMC and Meadowlands Hospital (Secaucus), Meru’s virtualized WLAN immediately solved the wireless infrastructure instability problems that LibertyHealth’s IT department had been grappling with for years. Meru’s architecture now provides the hospital with the reliability that is

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