Integrator Replaces 20-Year-Old Paging System at Oregon Hospital

PORTLAND, Ore. — Because its 20-year-old paging system no longer produced audible messages, Providence St. Vincent Medical Center (PSVMC) here installed Biamp Systems’ Vocia critical paging and life safety system.

“We had a mixed group of amplifiers from TOA and Valcom,” PSVMC TSS Instrumentation Manager Jim Gainer tells SSI. “The system was just old and worn out. The fire marshals thought it offered poor quality sound.”

With 3,664 employees and more than 85,000 emergency room visits in 2010, a more robust, updated solution was in order. Thus, the hospital contacted its integrator, Portland, Ore.-based Integrated Systems Group (ISG), to devise a system that would meet the needs of the 523-bed facility. Founded in 1948, ISG, an electrical contractor and systems integrator, provides access control, CCTV, fire/life-safety systems and paging systems to its clients. Roughly 70 percent of ISG’s business comes from the healthcare market.

When Biamp Systems Western Regional Director Bruce Stimpson heard that the hospital was looking to upgrade its paging system, he called ISG and explained the benefits of the Vocia system, he tells SSI.

“What attracted [ISG and the hospital] to Vocia is that it’s a networkable product,” Stimpson says. “It’s very scalable. With this product, there is no central core that exists with other paging systems. If something happens to fail, it will only affect operations in a particular area, not the whole system.”

Another selling point for the hospital is that staff could fully supervise the solution. If something goes awry with the solution. it will automatically alert hospital personnel, allowing staff to immediately address potential issues.

Before installing the Vocia system, Biamp requires at least one person from the install team to attend the company’s certified training program. The two-day course provides system design instruction, as well explanation of the individual hardware and software components. A group of ISG technicians took advantage of the training, ISG Project Manager Alex Maia tells SSI.

“Multiple people on my crew were involved in the training,” he says. “They really got a lot out of it. It wasn’t overwhelming by being too lengthy, and thankfully, it was local.”

Currently in its third and final phase of the install, ISG placed 12 paging stations throughout the facility. Although the training made it easier for the installers to put the system in place, ISG did face wiring challenges.

“The concern in an existing hospital is a 100-percent re-cable,” says Maia. “Vocia uses CobraNet over standard TCP/IP, which can’t be routed across VLANs, so we weren’t able to jump on existing switches. We put in some extra switches by getting those areas of coverage that weren’t already serviced by switches that we could utilize.”

During the first two phases of installation, three PSVMC technicians attended Biamp’s training for end user maintenance, which Maia says helped ISG greatly. “With their guys being trained, we feel confident with them tweaking things here and there,” he says. “They can do that from their desks as opposed to having to go out to a rack. It speaks highly of the way the system was developed.”

The new system’s added capabilities became apparent during an adjustment phase of ambient noise controllers (ANCs), Gainer says.

“We only had one level of standard paging. Now we have standard and emergency paging, which overrides any volume controls so everyone can hear emergency calls,” he says. “Overall, the system works really well.”

This project marks the first time that a hospital has installed Vocia, released just 14 months ago, says Stimpson. He notes that Biamp markets the paging system to hospitals, transit stations, airports, event centers and big, corporate campuses.


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