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Hospital Discusses Benefits of Metronet

SJRMC_DiscussionWednesday morning Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center in Plymouth sat down with many of the players involved with bringing the St. Joe Valley Metronet to Marshall County and Plymouth.

Loretta Schmidt, President of SJRMC in Plymouth discussed the benefit of having the dark fiber at their facility.  She said, “It gives us better patient care and our patients a competitive edge.  Those who are receiving care in this area can’t get their arms around it because it’s not tangible because you can’t see it, feel it, hear it or touch it, but what it does is allow their information to be transferred at a higher level of efficiency and consistency with safeguards built in.”  She continued, “It potentially could result in a quicker diagnosis.”

Mayor Mark said bringing the Metronet to Plymouth means economic opportunity for a lot of people.  It can help with great job opportunities in the future, not only this year but 10 years down the road and further.”

Mary Jan Headman from St. Joe Valley Metronet gave a brief background on the project that started in construction last spring with completion this fall.  She said, “There are over 30 miles of new network available to business and organizations along US 31.”  Currently there are nineteen locations connected including the City of Plymouth, Marshall County, LaVille Schools, along with various businesses.  Some are connected directly while others use a service provider.

Gary Miller, Regional Information Services Director from the hospital said, “This has been a dream of ours for the last 10 years.  Healthcare technology grows on a daily basis.  There’s more opportunities to provide better care, to provide better diagnostic equipment locally and more efficient for us to shoot x-ray images here and sent to Mishawaka to be stored on the main system.”  He said the size of the data files were so large that they had to be batched in during the overnight hours when the system wasn’t so busy.  With the Metronet that data can be transferred in real time, many times while the patient is still with the doctor. The Metronet speed is about 25 to 30 times faster for the hospital.  He said, “Someone recently gave an analogy of the old system as being similar to trying to shove a piano through a soda straw. There was that much disparity between the amount of data and the capability of the network.”

Marshall County Commissioner Kevin Overmyer has been involved with the project for 8 years.  He commented, “This was a group effort between the city, county, Saint Joe County who contributed $250,000 to get the conduit down here because they looked at it as a regional economic development tool.”  Overmyer said the hospital stepped up to the plate when the project was all funded but the last $125,000 and helped reach the goal.

Overmyer noted that no one downstate would help on the project.  After seeking funding from INDOT, our state legislators and even the governor’s office nobody had any money so this public private partnership made it possible.

Jerry Chavez, Executive Director of the Marshall County Economic Development Corporation noted, “The Metronet project creates a platform so our businesses can be successful.  It gives our companies a competitive edge.”  Chavez said the Metronet is an asset they can take to a whole host of companies looking for locations that have a competitive edge.

Overmyer also noted that the Metronet can open opportunities for the towns of Lakeville and LaPaz because if comes right down US 31. He said they should start a plan to develop this corridor with help from economic development.

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