connectivity matters
June 2, 2020  |  Written by

Putting Technology to the Test

The unprecedented conditions of the pandemic have stretched Rajant’s thinking about possible applications for our technology and where we can be of assistance. The term “healthcare expansion”, once limited to discussions around health insurance, has been further defined to include pop-up temporary medical space for facility-strapped hospitals to provide critical community health-related services. One such service is the ability to offer drive-thru COVID-19 testing.

To enable healthcare expansion by this definition is what Rajant does best. To assist a fellow community business to fulfill its mission is an honor.

Morehead, Kentucky is home to Rajant manufacturing. Our Kentucky-based staffers come from Morehead and the greater area of Rowan County. Their go-to hospital is St. Claire HealthCare, whose mission is “to proclaim God’s goodness through a healing ministry to the people of Eastern Kentucky”.

To achieve their calling during this pandemic, St. Claire began offering drive-thru COVID-19 testing to patients meeting criteria determined by the Kentucky Department of Public Health on April 9. On May 4, demand for drive-thru testing exponentially expanded with the offer of free testing to anyone who wanted it, pushing the daily rate to a high of 325 people/day. Outside communications became essential, and St. Claire required a networking solution to support their proactive willingness to test residents.

“To handle the expected volume of people wanting COVID-19 testing, we needed to extend our drive-thru testing capacity and the best place to do that was outside the normal reach of the hospital’s Wi-Fi,”shared Andy Price, PMP, HCISPP, Scrum Master and VP/CIO Information Technology at St. Claire HealthCare (SCH). “Rajant loaned SCH one of their long-range, Wi-Fi bridges and two of their battery-powered access points enabling us to connect the remote testing site to the hospital’s network. By having the site connected, staff was able to utilize their laptops to access the hospital electronic health records (EHR) to register patients remotely. Staff was also able to use their Cisco Wi-Fi phones to stay in communication with our teams inside the hospital.”

Leaders within the County offered gratitude too for what SCH and Rajant have achieved with healthcare expansion within Kentucky. “Rowan County has been successful over the years because of strong community partnerships. When a new business becomes a part of the community, it’s a wait and see if they are partners or just a company,” shared Rowan County Judge-Executive Harry Clark. “It was a short wait to determine Rajant’s commitment to our community. They have partnered from the beginning and displayed that commitment during this COVID- 19 pandemic. When a drive-thru testing site at St. Claire was discussed, Rajant immediately volunteered to set up a critical component to facilitate a successful test site – – – the wireless link for communications from the parking lot to testing locations. Rajant Corporation is instrumental in the success of our community in both good times and bad. We are so fortunate they chose Rowan County to locate their business.”

Humbled to aid with SCH’s drive-thru COVID-19 testing, Rajant was curious to understand the challenges, responses, and lessons learned from SCH. Dr. Will Melahn, St. Claire HealthCare’s Chief Medical Officer, provided these insights.

What are the top three challenges you needed to overcome to make this initiative happen?

“All of the challenges we faced were logistic-oriented. Nationally and regionally, there was a severe shortage of supplies and shortfalls of testing capacity. Personal protective equipment was also in extremely short supply, which forced us to think “outside the box” and look at doing testing in alternate sites such as outdoors. The next challenge was the infrastructure. We had to invent ways to work outside reliably, safely, and securely which was clearly outside of our typical ecosystem.” – Dr. Melahn

What has been the employee response?

“The engagement from our staff and physicians has been phenomenal. They have all stepped up in multiple ways to serve the community in this unique situation.” – Dr. Melahn

What has been the community response? 

“The community response has been extraordinary. I believe that a large amount of our success is because the population took the public health directives very seriously, limited their exposures to others, have taken precautions with hand washing and masks, and have been very interested in community testing. The early adoption of our recommendation to universally screen skilled nursing facility patients by the local nursing homes has had a tremendously positive impact. We have had no skilled nursing facility deaths in the region.” – Dr. Melahn

How long do you foresee running the drive-thru?

“As long as it takes. I do foresee that we will have rolling outbreaks throughout the country, thus requiring us to have a flexible response plan for surges in community testing demand.” – Dr. Melahn

What will be the lessons learned from these last months, and how will they inform future community collaboration? 

“Cultivate community relationships before you have a disaster. We have a very close-knit and collaborative business, government, and civic leadership community in this region, and that has been a godsend.” – Dr. Melahn. 🖉

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