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Wireless technology available to patients, families at Health Center

by Pat Keefe - September 18, 2006

The Health Center has installed wireless technology to allow online access from the bedside in the John Dempsey Hospital and from the desktop in clinics and offices.

Hospital floors one through seven, Obstetrics, and the Newborn Intensive Care Nursery on the ground floor, and the Emergency Department, Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center, Neag Comprehensive Colon Cancer Center Prevention Center, and the Food Court on the main floor have all been wired for wireless access to the Internet.

Jonathan Carroll, assistant vice president for information technology at the Health Center, says the Center's goal was to enhance hospitality and offer a value-added service to patients and visitors.

"Wireless access makes life easier for patients and their families," Carroll says.

"In a pilot program last year, we targeted a couple of areas where patients were getting longer-term treatments and that allowed them to try the wireless out and kick the tires on the system. It worked, and the feedback was positive, so we decided to proceed with wiring the whole of the hospital."

Access points were installed and connected to DSL circuits, and an additional firewall was installed.

In order to preserve internal security, the system was decoupled from the Health Center's internal Internet access. Cisco System's Building Broadband Service Manager was purchased to manage authentication and logging for access to the network.

Making wireless available is a great service to offer patients, says Gwyn Muscillo, nurse manager in Labor and Delivery.

"This will make many patients very happy."

Wireless Internet access is now available at many locations at the UConn Health Center, including the Food Court, as shown here.
Wireless Internet access is now available at many locations at the UConn Health Center, including the Food Court, as shown here.
Photo by Peter Morenus

Kai Mitcheal of Hartford, a patient on the sixth floor, says having a computer and Internet access helps keep her busy.

"I go online and play games," she says. "I check my e-mail. I've even bought things online."

Mitcheal says she realized the system was available when she saw another patient go online.

"It's easy," she adds. "There's no problem connecting, and if you do have a problem, just ask the nurses. They know all about it."

Small posters in waiting rooms inform patients about the wireless service, and a one-page instruction sheet is available from nurses to help users log on.

The nursing department played a key role in the pilot program. A team led by Donna Pryor, a registered nurse in Oncology 6, worked with IT to shepherd the project to completion.

"In today's world, the ability to be connected while away from the office has almost become expected," says assistant vice president for IT Jonathan Carroll.

"Whether the user is a patient or a visitor, JDH link will provide online capability for work, play, or entertainment."

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