Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, Neb., is one of the nation’s top-ranked pediatric medical, surgical, and teaching hospitals, providing comprehensive care to patients since 1948. It is the only full-service pediatric healthcare center in Nebraska, with clinical expertise in more than 50 pediatric specialties.
U.S. News & World Report has recognized Children’s as a “Best Children’s Hospital” in each of the following pediatric specialties: Cardiology & Heart Surgery, Pulmonology, Gastroenterology & GI Surgery, and Urology. Additionally, Children’s is home to Nebraska’s only Level IV Newborn Intensive Care Unit and Level II Pediatric Trauma Center.
Its stated mission is “To improve the life of every child.” By any critical measure, Children’s has risen to meet the lofty aspiration held by that mission. The excellence delivered by Children’s has been a source of civic pride for 74 years.
Over those seven-plus decades, Children’s has witnessed first-hand the advances in technology that positively affect lives. One of the more recent developments over that time has been the impact of cellular and wireless technology on hospital operational procedures. Distributed antenna systems (DAS) play an essential role in ensuring Children’s has the infrastructure required to connect critical hospital functions with a myriad of devices.
“The biggest thing is to provide cellular connectivity to all of our patients, our patient families, and our providers,” said Aaron Murray, Network Architect at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center. “We have an application we use called Voalte, which is on regular Wi-Fi phones here for nurses and staff, but providers have an app on their cell phones called Voalte Me that uses the data plan or whatever connection they have to provide access to the Voalte platform. When they come onto campus and have their cell phones, they get a call, not to their cell number, but instead to their Voalte number, and it uses our DAS to provide them the important on-call connectivity they need while on the hospital campus.”
Pierson Wireless, which also calls Omaha home, has been working with Children’s since 2009 to complete more than two dozen different DAS installations and upgrades to create enhanced indoor cellular network coverage within the property, benefitting both hospital operations and the guest experience at Children’s.
Children’s campus consists of four main buildings – Wiebe Tower (nine floors), Scott Pavilion (four floors), Specialty Pediatric Center (five floors), and the new Hubbard Center for Children (nine floors).
“We had an older DAS system in the Wiebe Tower with two providers – AT&T and Verizon – and a few remotes to handle the lower levels below Dodge Street where access and connectivity weren’t that great,” said Murray. “Then we began to build the Hubbard Center, and immediately began to realize as it was going up, it began blocking the signal to the Wiebe Tower because of all the steel in the construction.”
To meet both the current and future cellular enhancement needs of Children’s, Pierson Wireless installed a JMA TEKO fiber distributed antenna system (DAS) capable of providing coverage at 700MHz, 800MHz, 850MHz, 1900MHz, and 2100MHz for AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and US Cellular. Pierson Wireless managed the relationship with those four carriers to secure dedicated signal sources for the DAS at no cost to the hospital.
“The relationship between Children’s and Pierson Wireless has been great,” Murray said. “Pierson helps us in these areas where they have considerably more expertise. Working with vendors and cellular carriers to get coverage in the hospital and other areas around the campus is a niche process and an area where our team can’t contribute in the ways Pierson can. Pierson can come in and get those vendor relationships and expertise negotiated to help expand our DAS to provide coverage for all our doctors, providers, and the public that comes into the hospital for our services.”
For Pierson Wireless, the opportunity to positively impact the daily operations and lives of the staff, providers, patients, and patient families of Children’s is a responsibility we cherish.
“It’s been a pleasure working with the Children’s Hospital & Medical Center team for more than a decade,” said Scott Kamrath, Director of Advanced Solutions & Development at Pierson Wireless. “With the relationship we have established over the years, the team at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center has put their full trust in Pierson Wireless to provide a best-in-class DAS that will support their needs today and will take them well into the future.”
Public safety communication coverage is another key component of a large indoor solution, and for Children’s, the team at Pierson Wireless installed a SOLiD Alliance DAS powered by a SOLiD First Responder (700/800 MHz) digital public safety repeater. SOLiD Public Safety remote units were installed at each existing JMA TEKO cellular remote unit location in the Hubbard Center for Children.
“When building the Hubbard Center system, Pierson expanded that out to handle emergency services radio connectivity as well so firefighters, police and other responders entering the building could have radio connectivity no matter what part of the building they were in,” Murray said.
Pierson Wireless utilized existing fiber optic cable from the headend room out to the intermediate distribution frame (IDF) rooms for this solution. Cost efficiencies were also realized by combining the SOLiD remotes into legacy cellular DAS coaxial cabling infrastructure.
The team at Pierson Wireless worked closely with the Douglas County AHJ during the design engineering phase and turnup of Children’s public safety system.