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Terrebonne Deploys Temperature-Tracking Tags
The Louisiana hospital is using Newbury Wi-Fi RFID tags from Trapeze Networks to monitor conditions within all of its heating and cooling devices.
Nov 20, 2009—Terrebonne General Medical Center (TGMC) has begun installing RFID-based sensor tags to track temperatures within all of its refrigerators, freezers, medical fluid heaters and blanket warmers, using ActiveAsset software and AT320 active Wi-Fi RFID tags from Newbury Networks, a division of Trapeze Networks. The system will be used with the hospital's existing Meru Wi-Fi system. All devices are expected to be tagged within the next 60 days.
By utilizing its existing wireless system, the 300-bed hospital has only to attach tags inside the cooling or heating equipment throughout the facility, and install the Trapeze software, which resides on TGMC's server, to interpret data from Wi-Fi Meru access-points, indicating the location of each cooler or warmer, its current temperature and its temperature history, and send alerts when necessary.
TGMC first began discussing the system with Trapeze's Newbury division, to place temperature-sensing tags in refrigerators and freezers for storing pharmaceuticals. Before the system was installed, however, the hospital expanded its plans to include all refrigerators and freezers (not just those for storing pharmaceuticals); all containers that either heat or cool medications, medical devices or tissues; and heaters and refrigerators in the cafeteria. The blanket warmers—which heat up blankets before they are provided to patients in the surgery area—are also being tagged. Altogether, the hospital plans to use more than 120 tags.
Like all hospitals, TGMC must adhere to Joint Commission guidelines requiring refrigerator or freezer temperatures to be checked regularly. Prior to adopting the Trapeze system, TGMC's staff took a pen and paper to each cooler in the 1-million-square-foot hospital, recording the temperature twice each day. The facility sought a system that could transmit ID and sensor data via the existing Wi-Fi system, and do it without adding other hardware, such as exciters, to allow reads of all sensor tags within the coolers and heaters throughout the building.
Other vendors would have had to add hardware to their existing system in order to guarantee reads of all sensor tags, says Jeff Sardella, TGMC's network administrator. In so doing, he explains, they could achieve greater visibility into the condition of the coolers and heaters, and save employees hours of time spent manually recording temperature measurements each week. Newbury's system, Sardella says, was the only one that could offer Wi-Fi coverage without extra access points or exciters.
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