"Webcast training has been around for quite some time, but it's really in the last year or two that it's become routine for us." So says Jim Schreiner, Technology Services Director for Graham Hospital in Canton, Illinois, speaking of the AV and teleconferencing systems installed in the boardroom at the hospital. "These systems have really been a big blessing, as we're able to train larger groups of people without travel and without setup time. It's amazing how many of the meetings and educational conferences that we used to travel to are now webcast."
The boardroom that Graham built was part of a five-year effort to update the hospital and serve community residents more efficiently. Under the leadership of CEO Robert Senneff, Graham has added a new emergency wing, upgraded its medical/surgical unit, begun remodeling its obstetrics unit, and begun building a new physician clinic across from its main hospital. In 2004, they added a new AV system to a conference room off their lobby for staff training and public meetings, in 2005 built the boardroom, and in 2006, 2007 and 2009, added a series of six new classrooms for the Graham School of Nursing, which is located in the hospital. Conference Technologies, Inc.® designed and installed the AV systems for all of these spaces.
Schreiner says the hospital uses the boardroom daily, for hospital and foundation board meetings, physician meetings, staff meetings, and webcast training and teleconferences. Since physician and board member schedules are tight, the hospital schedules many of these meetings at lunch or dinnertime, and they built an adjoining kitchen to facilitate meal service.
To handle groups as large as 32 people, Conference Technologies, Inc.® designed an audio conferencing system based on two eight-channel Polycom Vortex conferencing units. Conference Technologies, Inc.® installer and programmer Dustin Dietrich says, "The Vortex gives us a full DSP [digital signal processor] in addition to a telephone hybrid. We use the DSP for automatic mic mixing, source mixing, volume control, ambient noise cancellation and echo cancellation. In other words, all the audio is automatically leveled and mixed, whether the system is used for an audio conference or a normal presentation. It's a complex process inside the DSP, but for the user, it's very simple."
In addition to the Vortex units, the sound system includes an EAW amplifier, 12 JBL ceiling speakers and 10 Audio-Technica omnidirectional microphones. Dietrich also installed a Shure wireless lavaliere, which can be used by a presenter who is standing or walking around the room.
"We make really good use of this system," says Schreiner. When a physician, board member or even someone on the staff can't make a given meeting, he or she can just call in to participate. "Because our doctors take part in meetings with physician groups in Peoria, the system is a huge time saver. We can join in electronically rather than having to put a group on the road." The fact that the room is always ready for a teleconference or webcast encourages people to use it routinely, and the sound and picture quality helps their comfort and productivity.
The Graham Hospital boardroom is unusual in that it uses two large screen displays, one at each end of the room. There's a 4500-lumen Hitachi projector used with a 100" diagonal DaLite screen, plus a 61" NEC plasma display. Schreiner says that, for smaller meetings, groups will gather around the plasma display, and that gives this very large room a more intimate, friendly feeling. When the room is filled to capacity, they'll turn on both displays and the second can help those in the back read smaller text on presentation slides. "We also have what we call breakaway video, where we'll present two different images, one at one end of the room and one at the other," Schreiner says. "For example, when we have our performance improvement training, they will show a PowerPoint on one screen and a video on the other."
The room is unusually flexible for presenters as well. They can use the touchscreen remote control, wireless mouse and keyboard anywhere they choose. There's a dedicated PC located in an alcove at the front of the room, but most choose to present from their own laptops, and so Conference Technologies, Inc.® built three pop-ups into the table with a VGA input, AC power and a network connection. There are two of these at the end near the projection screen and one at the opposite end near the plasma. "These inputs have really worked out nicely," Schreiner says. "We've had times where we've had three people wanting to present. We just hook one up at each of the inputs then, as one presenter finishes, we switch to the second. They're cued up and ready to go."
Roy says Conference Technologies, Inc.® originally designed the room for videoconferencing, as the hospital plans to add this type of system at a later date. "All we would need to do is add the cameras, the codec and one more page to the touch panel controls," he explains. "Our plan is to add two cameras facing the table, one at each end of the room. That way they could switch between meeting participants and a standing presenter, whether they use the projection system or the plasma as their main display."
In addition to the boardroom, Conference Technologies, Inc.® installed AV systems in the lobby conference room and six classrooms used by the Graham Hospital School of Nursing. The hospital uses the lobby conference room for staff training, staff meetings, vendor meetings and public programs. Conference Technologies, Inc.® designed an AV system with a new projector and screen, a 50" plasma display, a new sound system, lectern, DVD/VCR, document camera and wireless controls.
Each of the nursing school classrooms includes a projection system, sound system, and a podium with a computer and VCR/DVD player. In four of them, Conference Technologies, Inc.® installed a Smart Podium, which provides markup functions similar to what you might see on a TV sports broadcast. "The instructors use this all the time, to make notes and stress certain points right on their presentation visuals," Schreiner explains.
Schreiner says Conference Technologies, Inc.® has been very helpful through more than five years of planning, installing and maintaining the Graham AV systems. "We're delighted with them," he says. "We were looking for somebody we could trust and partner with and they've been great. That's why we keep having them back."