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ECRMC to begin wireless system

January 12, 2002|STAFF REPORT

El Centro Regional Medical Center is ready, after months of installation and planning, to activate a new wireless telephone communication system that will permit nurses, physicians and other attendants to heighten the efficiency of patient care.

Hospital trustees in September committed $130,469 to cover the cost of obtaining the upgraded hospitalwide telephone system that provides 30 wireless phones at key positions throughout the hospital.

David Selman, the hospital's chief executive officer, evaluated the system at two hospitals with which he was previously associated and found it to be "an excellent system to make the working lives of our nurses, clinical staff and physicians more efficient."

Upon his arrival at El Centro Regional, he asked the staff to explore implementation of the wireless system here.

"Our physicians and clinical staff work hard to care for our patients," he added.

"Anything we can do to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of their communications is of interest to us."

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The wireless phones will be in the medical-surgical units, the intensive-care unit, pediatrics, surgery, obstetrics, nursery, cardiopulmonary and radiology.

Virgie Galindo, the hospital's chief nursing officer, said the system facilitates communication "from bedsides, nursing stations, medical carts, hallways and other key locations. Assessment findings, patient problems and concerns, diagnostic and treatment findings and other critical information can be quickly and easily communicated while staff members continue to view and communicate with the patient and perform important nursing functions."

Physicians and other staff members can be contacted without the necessity of transferring calls and waiting for people to be located. The system also enhances direct communications with pharmacy, laboratory, dietary, radiology, housekeeping and other ancillary services as well as improving communication between admitting personnel nursing supervisors and clinical coordinators.

Jim Dikes, project manager, said the system involves computer software and hardware upgrades of the present system, expanding the number of both incoming and outgoing trunks as well as adding the wireless phones.

New in- and outgoing trunk lines, telephone stations and wireless phones can be added to the system as needed, Dikes said. He added the purchase was made with an eye toward adapting it to the new building now under construction.

He said the system is redundant in that "if one system should for some reason fail, the backup system is there to instantaneously take over."

The hospital had 26 outgoing trunks and 24 incoming trunks and nearly 600 assigned numbers using those trunks. At least 60 new numbers have been added, he said, adding "we'll probably add some more when we move into the new building."

Lucent Technologies equipment was obtained through the San Diego office of Avala Communications, the manufacturer.

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