In-Building Cell Signal Coverage Case Study: Moose Lake Hospital

Mercy Hospital in Moose Lake, MN is a healthcare facility that has continuously grown in scale since 1963, providing more options for their patients at every turn. In 2004, the hospital became designated as a Critical Access Hospital. Located in a rural area, they know how to respond to their community’s needs, expanding into new specialties and developing new departments and spaces for emergency, rehabilitation, lab/imaging, dining, birthing, and surgical care since then.

Communication became more and more essential to the operation of the hospital, which was quickly growing, for its employees that are on staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week and to meet the needs of their families, patients, and visitors. Being located in a rural area added complexity to their in-building cell signal coverage issues. As new additions, spaces, and equipment were added, new coverage issues also appeared.

Staff and guests in clinics and hospitals rely on in-building cell signal coverage for a multitude of reasons, and weak cell signal can have effects ranging from annoying to serious. Seamless communication in healthcare institutions is essential, especially in critical situations such as lockdowns or rescues, which is why the systems that accommodate uninterrupted communication are becoming accepted as standard requirements for buildings in many states.

Let’s take a look at this project’s issues, solutions, and outcomes.

Project Name: Moose Lake Hospital
Project Location: Moose Lake, MN
Project Size: 180,000 square feet

The Issue

The hospital received complaints from visitors and staff about weak cell signal and poor connectivity. In some rooms or hallways, there was no signal at all. Staff wasn’t able to communicate with others within or outside of the hospital, which was particularly problematic for management. Patients and visitors were unable to make critical calls from inside the building.

There was a lack of in-building cell signal coverage even after a large addition and site renovation by another well-known company. The hospital hired a high voltage electrical company and included the cell booster system in that contract. 4 competitive amplifiers were installed with poor signal results. More equipment was added by another well-known company (a total of 13 amplifiers) over a one-year period, but the hospital still saw poor signal results.

The Solution

Berk-Tel was hired by the hospital to review and audit the entire system and recommend corrections. 13 brand new systems that were previously installed by another company had to be removed because they worked poorly.  An “ICE” (Interior Cellular Enhancement) solution, with unique Berk-Tel technology, was then installed.

The hospital proceeded with the installation of commercial amplifiers and antennas in areas with weak signal. It was important that the equipment support all carriers (i.e. Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, etc.) and technologies (i.e. 2G, 3G, 4G/LTE) to meet the demands of all occupants at any time. Support of any number of users on the network at the same time was also necessary.

The Outcome

Berk-Tel’s “ICE” (Interior Cellular Enhancement) solution was verified to work with all carriers and technologies and support an unlimited number of simultaneous users. The hospital reported a significant change to their in-building cell signal coverage; there was now a strong signal in areas that were “dead zones” and cell signal was consistent and reliable throughout the entire building.

Guests were delighted and management noticed improvements in communication between employees. The hospital was also appreciative of the discreet installation and noted that it did not disrupt operations whatsoever.

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