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Case Study: St. Francis Hospice


Background

Whilst most might prefer not to think about the primary activities of the Saint Francis Hospice, few would not respect and value the work that the charity undertakes.

As you enter either of the primary Saint Francis Hospice locations, you cannot help but notice a certain sense of peace and calm: an atmosphere made possible by professional attention to detail in all aspects of the organisation’s operation; notwithstanding hard work reaching back to its formation in the early 1990s.

Humble beginnings. Indeed, the charity began its work on the basis of outreach palliative care organised from a Portacabin located on the grounds of the Capuchin Friary in Raheny from which a dedicated team offered support and advice to patients and families in their own homes.

Recognising the value of the Foundation’s work, the Capuchin Friars donated the site of their monastery garden to Saint Francis Hospice and work began in 1993 to develop the Raheny Hospice, which was built in two phases.

Initially operating as a purpose built day care centre, a second phase followed in 1993 with the construction of St. Anne’s Inpatient Unit that accommodated 19 patients for specialist care and support in the terminal phase of their illnesses.

Saint Francis Hospice Raheny has expanded significantly over time to incorporate additional outreach services, bereavement counselling and education facilities (the Hospice is affiliated with both Trinity College and UCD for which it serves as a base for Medicinal Masters Courses).

Recognising a need for an additional hospice to service North West Dublin and with Government support (by way of donation of a 6.8 acre site in Blanchardstown) the charity built a state-of-the-art facility comprising accommodation for 24 patients, Hospice Day Care and Outpatient Services as well as a second base for the Community Palliative Care Team.

The Challenge

As with any modern organisation, IT is essential in the operation of Saint Francis Hospice, which supports a range of services for some 175 users across the two sites.

In addition to Patient Administration services, applications cover healthcare applications, HR and accounting systems. The infrastructure also accommodates and meets the needs of those undertaking academic studies.

Responsibility for IT falls to John Murphy, ICT Officer, whose calm demeanour underpins his philosophy of ensuring that IT in and of itself does not introduce unnecessary and unwanted stress to the organisation.

John engaged with Airfibre in 2013 when it became apparent that traditional Telco infrastructure at both locations was incapable of delivering more than basic broadband services. It was clear to him that more robust connectivity would be needed if he were to deliver on his goal of an integrated infrastructure spanning both sites along with inter-server communications and distributed access to data sources.

The Solution

The initial solution comprised Internet access from the Hospice’s Raheny facility and a 10Mbps dedicated leased line connection to Blanchardstown.

John was quickly impressed with the service and support provided by Airfibre and liked the open approach to issues as they arose and additional the assistance that would be freely provided with operations issues not necessarily linked to the communications service provided by Airfibre. A close bond between customer and supplier quickly developed.

In 2016, demand for services had increased due in part to an increase in the number of colleagues operating out of Blanchardstown and the introduction of new IT services. Consequently, circuits were upgraded to operate at 50Mbps with the introduction of Comreg licensed microwave technologies that offer fibre equivalent services for the higher data rates.

Testimony to the quality of the links now in situ can be found in the Hospices’ use of Video Conferencing – an application that is highly sensitive to latency and for which all users are, rightly, expert in determining whether fit for operation.

Airfibre is committed to investing in the core network and wireless high sites for which backhaul facilities have been upgraded to give Saint Francis Hospice a growth path to 100Mbps in future should it be required.

Summary

John Murphy sums up the Airfibre relationship by stating, “Airfibre is there when we need them. And, as happens from time-to-time, where problems arise, Airfibre is highly proactive at keeping me informed and updated through to resolution – as a result we don’t need to worry, we can leave that to them.”