Tift Regional to break ground on 9.3 million dollar data center - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Tift Regional to break ground on 9.3 million dollar data center

By  Stephanie Springer  - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –Tift Regional Medical Center will soon break ground on a 9.3 million dollar data center to house patient records and information technology.

The 15,000 square foot facility will include areas for computer servers, office space a training center and utility systems.

Officials say the secure building will even able to withstand hurricane force winds.

"It will be gated and Tift regional employee badges will be required to access the building there will be security camera we will make sure everything is monitored," said Assistant Vice President of Chief Information Officer, Guy McAllister.

Officials expect to add 10 jobs to information technology support over the next 18 months.

The new center should be complete by Summer 2011.

The federal government is requiring hospitals to make technology upgrades to make health records more portable and improve coordination and efficiency between hospitals and providers.


Full Press Release from Tift Regional Medical Center:

TRMC to build a new data center

Tift Regional Medical Center (TRMC) announced that the Tift County Hospital Authority has approved construction of a new, $9.3 million data center to house the hospital's expansive information technology.  Groundbreaking for this 15,000-square-foot facility, to be located in Tifton on Hilltop Drive near the TRMC Dialysis Center, will occur this spring.  The data center will have a 4,000-square-foot raised area for computer servers and will house office space, a training room and utility systems.


"This will be considered a hardened facility, meaning the data center will be a protected environment with specialized climate control, security provisions, redundant systems and resistance to extreme weather conditions, including hurricane-force winds," said Guy McAllister, TRMC assistant vice president and chief information officer. 


Construction will take approximately 12 months, and then another two months will be needed to commission the new facility.  "We will be utilizing a firm that specializes in testing the resiliency of data centers such as this," McAllister said.  "Their job will be to try and make all of our safeguard systems to fail.  If we do discover problems, the issues will be corrected before the center is opened."


Information technology has become the lifeblood of hospitals and is rapidly evolving.   McAllister said the trustees of the Tift County Hospital Authority had the foresight to prepare for the future.  "We currently support more than 65 critical applications at TRMC, including management information systems, digital medical imaging and numerous unit-specific programs," he said.  "This continues to grow at a steady pace and we have to be able to provide the proper technological support around the clock without unscheduled downtime."


TRMC currently has 19 staff members devoted to information technology support, and another 10 are expected to be added over the next 18 months.   This can be mainly attributed to meeting federal requirements mandated by the HITECH Act, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). 


"This is bigger in scope than Y2K and HIPAA, because much must be done by hospitals within a short timeframe," said McAllister.  "The HITECH Act is designed to make health information more portable for patients and improve coordination and efficiency between hospitals and providers."


The HITECH Act requires hospitals like TRMC to adopt Electronic Health Record (EHR) and Health Information Exchange (HIE) systems, including Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE), by next year. TRMC must demonstrate "meaningful use" of these implemented systems in 2011 to qualify for federal stimulus money and avoid penalties in Medicare/Medicaid reimbursements.  TRMC has some required programs already in place, and the new data center will be a critical component.


"In addition to the capital expense associated with the new data center, TRMC is expected to spend more than $7 million over the next five years to meet the HITECH Act requirements, with federal stimulus money providing an approximate $5 million offset," said Dennis Crum, vice president and chief financial officer.  


Crum added that financial support for the information technology projects will come from funds set aside by the hospital for capital expenditure projects and borrowing from the lending market is not contemplated at this time.  "We are able to use our operating margin to re-invest back into the hospital for critical projects like this, which keeps costs as low as possible," said Crum.  "This is a part of our board-approved capital plan."


McAllister said once completed, the TRMC data center will be the most premier facility of its kind south of Atlanta.  "This state-of-the-art data center will carry us for the next 10-15 years and is designed to be easily expanded for future growth," he said

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