ELIZABETHTOWN - Elizabethtown Community Hospital (ECH) has ushered in the 21st century with fiber-optic technology.
The hospital was recently equipped with the high-speed technology through Westelcom.
"They have been talking about this for a long time," said Jane Hooper, ECH director of community relations. "It is now time for us to realize the dream. For such a small facility, it is pretty wires in and pretty connected and it is quite impressive and it makes it great because we can be a little faster and better increase our services."
"We have the Internet and the phone hooked up to the fiber optic network," said Brett Sicola, ECH director of information systems and support. "We are going to be connected with CVPH later this week."
Sicola said the biggest reason for the change to fiber optics was to increase their "pipeline."
"Once everything is up and running, we will go from a pipe of three megabytes to one gigabyte," Sicola said. "Right now, if we had a major accident or event and it required us to send several hundred images to CVPH, it would take us about 30 minutes. Now, it will only take a couple. They will be on our network as if they were just across the street."
Both Hooper and Sicola said the change is beneficial in a number of ways.
"This will be a big help with our telemedicine program," Hooper said. "We have a high definition television unit and camera that connects with a unit in Plattsburgh and doctors can meet with patients virtually. This will allow more patients the chance o stay close to home instead of traveling, and it will give us a chance to expand the telemedicine services."
"It is going to be a big benefit to the patients that the hospital takes care of," Sicola said. "The information that needs to be transferee between sites can get there even faster, even before the patient is transferee, the doctors will already have the information and will have had it for a long time to make a diagnosis and have a plan in place."