Sudbury Regional Hospital adds data centre

Sudbury Regional Hospital, which hosts health information for other hospitals in the region, was running out of room in its current data centre. So it invested in a new $2 million data centre, which would not only meet its own requirements, but those of its regional partners.
When the hospital built its first data centre 10 years ago, it had no way of understanding the magnitude of how much data it would be collecting – or that it would end up doubling its staff every five years.
“We started looking at it from our future requirements to support the region,” said Gaston Roy, CIO for Sudbury Regional Hospital. It was already up to 90 per cent capacity in its two data centres, and its primary data centre was located in the basement, which was prone to flooding. The room itself was rated five out of 10 in its level of tolerance, so long-term the hospital was looking for a higher level of resistance – especially because it would be continuously storing more clinical data.
Sudbury Regional Hospital has a cost-sharing agreement where it shares PACS images and reports with six other organizations through NEHSA (North Eastern Health Services Alliance), where it supports the software and manages all updates and upgrades on the group’s behalf. As a result, it required more storage and equipment.
NEON (North Eastern Ontario Network) handles everything else, from its financial system to the health information system (which includes everything from diagnostic imaging to pharmaceutical applications).
“All these modules are also being hosted in the existing data centre,” said Roy. There are currently 10 corporations involved in NEON, but Sudbury Regional Hospital is working with another 12 hospitals that want to participate – which would almost double its capacity requirements.
“They were basically running out of room in their existing data centre,” said John Weber, client manager for Northern Ontario with IBM Canada. “A lot of the smaller hospitals need the same type of information, but they can’t afford the infrastructure and Meditech software.”
So Sudbury Regional Hospital built a new data centre, which is essentially a building within a room, with four walls, a raised foundation and a roof with an eavestrough around it.
IBM and partner FM Engineering Services were involved with the engineering, design and construction of the 1,200 square-foot data centre, and provided consulting services, servers and a 20TB storage system – all within a three-month timeframe.
The data centre features two UPS systems, three air conditioning units, a fire suppression system and security monitoring system with badge access and close-circuit TV. This serves 600,000 residents in the Sudbury area.
Sudbury Regional Hospital plans to slowly migrate away from its primary data centre to the new one, but has no plans to close its two existing data centres.
The new data centre will improve security and control of information, providing clinicians with more reliable access to patient information. “There are less points of failure because of the way the room was designed,” said Weber. “Everything is redundant.” When fully populated, one UPS could run the entire data centre, but by using two UPSs, they’re able to share the load, so if something happens to one, it can fail over to the other.
“The direction the government is going is they want more of these types of implementations across the province,” he added. “Sudbury’s got a head-start on that.”

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Vawn Himmelsbach
Vawn Himmelsbach
Is a Toronto-based journalist and regular contributor to IT World Canada's publications.

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