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Big bill for the internet

By Staff | Aug 11, 2013

Mary Hynes

United Hospital District is ready to spend $15,000 to speed up their connections.

However, it was the $40,943 in estimated operating costs that raised some eyebrows.

UHD has multiple off-campus sites that connect to the same network as the hospital location, using a Wide Area Network or WAN connection. However, the computer programs are connecting at a very slow speed.

Mary Hynes, with the UHD information technology department, visited the UHD board meeting last Tuesday to explain how to get all of the locations at the same operating level.

The installation cost for new Ethernet connections or circuits would cost $14,941. The IT department has budgeted $15,000 and would cover that fund request.

“This is an expensive thing,” she says. “The network is continuing to grow and grow and grow.”

And, with UHD currently working on converting everything over to an electronic health record program, it is important to have that reliable connection.

“Currently, our home health staff has to run over here (to the UHD building in Blue Earth) to run reports,” says Candace Ahrens.

The upgrades would need to be made to the connections between UHD and the following locations; Adolescent Treatment Center in Winnebago, Blue Earth Home Health, Wells Clinic and Winnebago Clinic.

The board members didn’t see an issue with the installation cost, they did however have some questions about the operating costs attached to the upgrade.

According to Hynes, the operating cost if UHD were to continue using the same connections they have been would be $13,400.52 a year. After upgrading the equipment for a more efficient connection at the various locations, the operating cost is estimated to be around $40,943.04.

“This number for the new operating cost is not uncommon,” Ahrens adds.

Hynes adds that the direction technology is headed, the operating costs for these networks will only continue to grow. However, this will improve the services providers are able to give.

“Connections are not consistent in speed or quality and we experience unscheduled downtime due to outages from equipment failure,” she explains in the proposal presented to the board members.

So, either the board members could decide to stay as they are and continue to pay $3,000 a month for the inconsistent connections or to take an increase in order to have a better quality connection at all locations.

The board ultimately decided since they are making the transition to electronic records and the use of many other computer-based programs, a high connections speed was necessary.

The board voted in favor of utilizing the budgeted money for the upgrade of the WAN connection.

The board was also given an update on the transition to UHD Incorporated, the non-profit operating board.

Jeff Lang, hospital administrator, reminded the board members they are currently waiting for word from the IRS on their non-profit status.

Tom Schroeder of Faegre Baker Daniels reported to Lang that he had a conversation with the IRS worker that has been handling UHD’s case.

“I am remaining hopeful,” Lang says.

Although the case worker didn’t report the status of the applications, he did request the draft of the lease that the board had worked on last month.

“We plan to give him three to four weeks before we call him again,” Lang says in his administrative report.

The board will continue working on the transition to the non-profit governance system. In the meantime, Schroeder is scheduled to attend the Sept. 3 UHD meeting so they can finalize the draft of the lease.