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Cable weary.


Like many hospitals today, we've been searching for a cure for a debilitating disease spreading faster than a new virus. We've been suffering from a bad case of cable-itis.

Of course, we agree that computers are the best thing to happen to medicine since penicillin. I don't know how we handled our business without them. But the cables are a headache. Consider the situation at this 500-bed, acute-care, non-profit community hospital on the south shore of Long Island.

Southside is now the largest hospital in Suffolk County. One reason we've grown successfully the past 10 years is that we've taken advantage of computer technology. Our computer center has a Unisys B-2925 and A-5 running on asynchronous half-duplex pole-select protocol; a Wang VS-65 running on coaxial cable; a DEC-1123; a DEC-1173; and a DEC-1184 running one terminal per port.

Like College Campus

We're like a college campus--our buildings separate, each with different data-processing requirements.

We use more than 300 CRTs, printers, and PCs. Most operate at 19,200 baud. We plan considerable on-line computer growth during the next several years.

As the number of our computers has expanded, the number of cables has grown, too. At first, dropping the cabling into the ceiling worked well; however, as the number of cables increased, so did the number of problems.

The cables were becoming too heavy for the ceiling. If we continued to add cables, we would have needed to add more ceiling support.

We didn't have room to pull yet more cables through existing openings to the upper floors. Adding cables caused continuous interruptions in our busy hallways. The cost of labor and material for cabling was increasing. Hazardous particles were stirred up when cables were added.

All these problems were compounded by the need to make constant changes as we continue to grow and add new programs. One change usually results in the need to move many terminals.

Another factor was the diversified array of computers the hospital uses. We needed an effective way to communicate with all of them.

The problems were clear. Our goal was to find a cost-effective solution. We considered a number of requests for proposals (RFP), but all but one of them involved installation of some type of backbone cabling system.

LAN Solution

Finally, we decided to accept a proposal to create a data-over-voice local-area network. This LAN was the ideal solution; it allows the hospital to hook up terminals to its existing twisted-pair telephone lines. Now it's simple to install a terminal wherever a telephone is located.

Our data-over-voice LAN was manufactured by Seiscor Technologies and installed by Northern Transtext Networks, an independent New York Telephone agent. NTN had just replaced the hospital PBX with Intellipath II, a New York Telephone digital centrex service.

Because a data-over-voice LAN eliminates the need to keep adding more cables, it's saving us a considerable amount of money. That's a major advantage.

Our first step in creating the data-over-voice LAN was to install a materials-management application on our DEC-1184. This system includes the purchasing department, receiving area, cart exchange, central supply, dietary, inventory control, pharmacy, and accounts payable.

25 Terminals In 2 Hours

Though these different departments are spread throughout the campus, it took us just a few hours to install 25 terminals. And the terminals worked immediately.

This system provides the hospital with a wide-area network instead of a LAN. The WAN has a standard RS-232 interface with top speed of 19,200 bits per second.

Although no hospital workstation is more than 1000 feet from our data center, our network can handle a distance of 18,000 feet over 26-gauge wire. Another advantage of the data-over-voice network: it's immune to general electrical impulses and to electromagnetic impulses from our radiology department.

The data-over-voice technology is relatively simple. The network takes advantage of the segment of bandwidth not used for voice, so data can be received and transmitted simultaneously. Voice traffic on telephone wires uses up to 4000 Hz; however, up to 10,000 Hz is available on our network. Our network is serviced by New York Telephone using a Northern Telecom DMS-100 switch.

A remote data/voice multiplexer (DVM) adds the data to the available bandwidth on the wire pair. Then, the DVM in our computer room separates the data from the voice, sending the voice traffic to the telephone switch and the data to the host computer in full-duplex mode.

Never Lose Voice

A passive low-pass filter in the DVM combines and separates the data from the voice. This guarantees that voice service will be unaffected if power to the DVM is lost.

Each telephone outlet with a terminal workstation is connected to a remote data/voice multiplexer (RDVM) the size of a small 212 modem. The telephone is connected to the telephone port on the DVM, and the workstation is plugged into the RS-232 connector. A like set-up in the computer room completes the circuit.

We recently needed more classroom space for a major system installation. Our data-over-voice network made it possible for computer-center employees to move terminals quickly to areas we converted into more classrooms. Some employees were switched from the DEC-1173 to the DEC-1184 computer. We simply changed the control in the telephone network. One DEC terminal could be used to access both computers.

The data-over-voice network not only solved our cable problems but increased our ability to provide computer services to employees.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:local area network at Southside Hospital on Long Island
Author:Niedballa, Harry A.
Publication:Communications News
Date:Jan 1, 1990
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