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At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, government health officials had warned that hospitals would be pushed to capacity. Throughout the nation, state and local officials rushed to find sites that could serve as temporary healthcare facilities to help treat the overflow of patients.

In suburban Elgin, Illinois, the Army Corps of Engineers was called in to convert the old Sherman Hospital building into a new alternate care facility; more than a decade after its initial closure.

In response to the unprecedented sense of urgency, contractors and laborers worked around the clock to complete the renovation process of Sherman Hospital. The massive 100,000-square foot revamp included three interconnected buildings, and it needed to be completed in less than a month. Unfortunately, project engineers encountered an unforeseen obstacle – a lack of reliable cell signal coverage inside the facility.

The Challenge

Cell signal was weak or nonexistent throughout the Sherman Hospital campus. As is often the case with older hospital buildings, signal could not penetrate the facility’s thick walls. Concrete, brick, and steel are a few of the signal blocking materials that are typically used in the construction of hospitals.

This lack of cell service would be particularly frustrating for doctors, nurses, staff members, patients, and visitors during a pandemic. Signal readings onsite exposed several inadequate coverage issues:

  • Only 20% of workers had strong cell signal inside the building
  • Coverage was just 10% near the windows of the facility
  • 30 feet into the building, signal was nonexistent

Project engineers explored solutions to improve signal immediately. Healthcare workers needed reliable cell signal to do their jobs effectively, while patients needed to communicate with people outside of the hospital using their cell phones.

The Solution

As project engineers explored solutions to improve cell signal immediately, they reached out to the installers at Continental Technologies. A representative with Continental consulted with Salas O’Brien engineers, who then reached out to WG Technologies to discuss how to resolve poor cell signal in the care facility. They determined that the WilsonPro Enterprise 4300R was the ideal solution to effectively enhance cell signal on the entire 100,000-square foot campus.

This WilsonPro Repeater System customized system features:

In addition, WilsonPro Reapeater Systems work with all phones and cellular devices on all carriers. Healthcare professionals and patients alike can use their own smartphones and carrier plans for voice and data while in the new temporary facility.

Once WG Technologies presented WilsonPro’s Enterprise 4300R as a solution to their problem, Continental Technologies moved forward with installing the custom cell signal solution on the Sherman Hospital campus.

The Results

Following installation of the WilsonPro Repeater System, the hospital experienced improved signal immediately. The availability of reliable cell service in workers’ offices enabled them to access medical files and care for patients more effectively. Patients were also able to communicate with family members since onsite visits were prohibited due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Before and after site readings indicated a significant improvement in cell signal coverage. While only 20% of workers had adequate signal prior to installation of the repeater system, 100% of them had strong signal after the system was installed. Near the windows, there was just 10% coverage, compared to 100% after installation of the device.

In addition to outstanding site reading results throughout the building, the time-sensitive project – from design to commissioning – was completed in just two weeks. The facility was up and running quickly, enabling workers to provide patient care as needed during the COVID-19 crisis.

How to Boost Cell Signal in Your Healthcare Facility

Strong cellular connectivity is vital to keep everyone, from healthcare providers and staff to patients and their families, connected. Here are some of the benefits of installing a WilsonPro Repeater System in your hospital or alternate care facility:

  • Increases potential reimbursement rates through improved patient satisfaction scores
  • Ensures safety during on-campus emergency situations
  • Keeps families connected and in touch with patients during critical times
  • Reduces the costs of network infrastructure requirements

WilsonPro’s customized Repeater, Hybrid DAS, and Active DAS Systems accommodate healthcare facilities of all sizes. To learn more about how a WilsonPro system can enhance in-building cellular reception and improve data speeds in your hospital or building, contact us today

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