As hospitals and health care facilities seek to upgrade technology in order to improve efficiency and provide new services, implementation of wireless networking systems become increasingly complex. The challenge of working within environments requiring tightly controlled access add additional considerations to planning for multi-level construction, a variety of construction materials used at different times in the building's history, and the integration of hundreds of wireless LAN access points and wireless devices.
A key component in health care installations is adherence to infection control measures. In medical environments, specific precautions have been established in the Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) procedures of the Joint Commission for Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). HVAC systems must be isolated, and personnel working in the area are to take special precautions, including use of anterooms where they can be vacuumed using a HEPA filtered vacuum before exiting the work site.
By using enclosures to mount wireless access points in a suspended ceiling, time and labor involved in meeting specialized infection control considerations can be reduced. For all wireless deployments, article 300.22 of the National Electric Code (N.E.C.) requires unlisted equipment installed in the air handling space above a suspended ceiling to be secured in a metal enclosure, accessible via an opening panel or door. This same enclosure arrangement provides a means by which technicians can reach wireless LAN access points from the front, eliminating the need to expose the air handling (plenum) space during moves, adds, and changes (MACs) in the wireless deployment.
A case study of the installation at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital provides key strategies for a successful large-scale wireless deployment. The article by Oberon President Scott D. Thompson and Siemens Communications Enterprise IT Architect Jon Linton, featured in the November/December 2010 issue of BICSI News Magazine, is available here.
Founded in 1999, Oberon is a leading designer of in-building wireless voice and data network infrastructure products.