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Wireless Woes Fixed

It was a typical busy morning when Skender got a call from James Morgan, Administrator at MMC (Modern Managed Carers) Nursing home. He got straight to the point.

“I’ve heard that you guys might be able to help us. Our network is a mess and we need someone to fix it. And we need this done ASAP. Things are a mess and I’m afraid it could affect our residents.”

Recognizing the seriousness of the issue, Skender, along with Isaac and Jeffrey headed over to MMC a couple of days later for a meeting with Mr. Morgan. He painted a fairly grim picture.  Residents and their visitors were upset that their wifi access didn’t work, and they let their displeasure be known. The really big concern was that the staff couldn’t get access when they needed it, and was often excruciatingly slow even when it did work. In fact, the nursing carts only worked in one part of the building, and not near most of the residents’ rooms!

We’ll get someone over to do a proper site survey. This way we will know exactly where to put the access points, and how many of them we really need. . . . And! We’re going to secure your medical records.

This wasn’t just a major time waste and productivity sink. It was making it difficult or impossible to use the Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system, which is where all of the resident’s prescription and medical information is stored. In short, the staff’s ability to provide top level patient care was being seriously hampered.

A bit more conversation turned up some really worrisome facts. Things were bad, but they were set to get worse. The system had been put in place without a survey so no one had any real idea of where the wifi radios needed to go, and which ones were being overloaded. It was old, out of support, and had no parts available. So if anything broke it meant that another portion of the network was going to go down. And, the system had been set up to be used only by the nursing home staff, but was now being used by staff and residents. That meant that a system built for a couple of dozen users was now supporting 300 users! No wonder it was so slow! Worse still, there was no real separation between the staff and the residents’ access. That left all of the medical records vulnerable to attack.

Jeffery, Skender and Isaac looked at each other. “These guys really need our help!” was the thought they all shared. Skender turned to Mr. Morgan and spoke crisply.

“So, here’s the plan. We’ll get someone over to do a proper site survey. This way we will know exactly where to put the access points, and how many of them we really need. We’ll set the network up to handle more people than are using now, and design it to add more capacity if you need it, so you won’t have to do a whole new system when your needs grow. And! We’re going to secure your medical records. Your wireless network will be behind the same firewall and filters as the rest of the network. And we’re going to make sure that the people who access to the residents’ wifi do not have access to medical records, or anything else from the Home, for that matter.”

Three days later, the survey was completed and James Morgan had a full proposal on his desk. It covered everything. A floor plan showed exactly where each of approximately 2 dozen Ruckus Access points were to be placed. The APs would be centrally managed by a Ruckus controller. The system would be set up to work with their firewall. And, there would be two types of user access. Residents would have access to wireless to use the internet, and that’s it. There would be no access to any of MMC’s systems. Staff would have access to the MMC system – and would always have priority over resident use of the network.

This was exactly what Mr. Morgan was looking for. The proposal clearly covered all of his current needs, and made provision for growth. His problems would be solved. All he wanted to know was “How fast can you get this done?”

Two weeks later, the new network was up and running. Staff is finally able to do their work when and where they need to. Productivity is up. Patient records are safe. Patient care is better managed. And residents enjoy the new service.

James Morgan is a happy man. Instead of worrying about his network, and dealing with upset staff, he can actually get his real work done.

[i] All names of people and organizations are fictional, except for the names of HOCS staff. The story is true.

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