Thanks to some rural area funding from the federal government, Mt. Grant Hospital just had their fiber optic system upgrade. “We’ve been working on this for quite awhile. We first had fiber optic cable installed in April,” Richard Munger, Mt. Grant Hospital administrator, said.

The grant money money is not given directly to the hospital, but rather passed on to the hospital  in offset costs, which significantly lowers the hospital bill for the fiber optic. The upgrade significantly increases the speed of transmissions. 

“This is very helpful in radiology. We send our MRIs to Carson City during the day and San Francisco during the night. Some of those MRI files are like 400 pictures. Before, it took 45 minutes to an hour to send those files; now it’s like three or four minutes at the most,” Munger said.

Munger compared the system to driving a freeway: “We used to drive a two lane, now we have a six-lane with the same amount of traffic.” July’s upgrade was an improvement over the initial April upgrade. Munger said the new upgrade is actually cheaper for the hospital than April upgrade.

Greg Schumann, the hospital’s IT manager, had other insights into the new system. “We started out with three megs (megabytes per second) to 45 megs in April. Now we’re going from 45 to 100,” Schumann said.

“We weren’t even sure we could get fiber optic up here. They had to run it up from the AT&T office downtown up to a pole outside the library. From there, they basically bored a hole with conduit inside through the ground up to the hospital and to the communications room,” Schumann said.

He also said the company is keeping the old copper wire 3 MB system as a backup. “We can’t afford to have a failure and have the systems down when we’re doing patient care,” Schumann said.

“This is good. It’s preparing us for our new electronic health records system that’s coming in January. It’s a cloud-based system,” Schumann said. This means the information is stored elsewhere rather than on the hospital’s hardware. It also means less work for hospital IT staff.

“All the work the doctors and nurses do, along with departments like X-ray and lab is going to be off their computer systems and hooked to a system down in Georgia. They have a big data center that will store our data. It’s really amazing,” Schumann said.

Recently, the Independent-News learned that the grant that helps subsidize the fiber optic cable for the hospital was in imminent danger when the office of U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford took action:

 “When I heard that a $19.6 million project vital to the well-being of my constituents was in danger, I directed my staff to do what we could to save the funding,” Horsford said. “

“Thankfully, working with the BLM, NHA, and NITA we were able to secure this funding that will improve health care and medicine in rural Nevada. This is an important project, and example of how it is possible to work around Washington gridlock to help constituents.”