Case Study: Audio Enhances Safety in Ebola Hospital Ward


The Need
2014 marked the year of the largest outbreak of Ebola– one of the deadliest diseases mankind has faced. When the World Health Organization categorized the epidemic as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern last August, hospitals across the United States acted quickly to increase safety measures.

One hospital in New York was fast-tracked to set up a temporary Ebola ward, in case an Ebola patient who arrived at JFK Airport needed to be rushed over to their center.

They needed to set up a system that would enable nurses to safely communicate with such a patient, as well as with anyone getting prepped to go into the patient’s room.

The Solution
In order to meet this challenge, the hospital employed an advanced audio solution from Louroe Electronics. For this installation, the audio solution included three Louroe products: their model APR-1, a single zone non-alarming audio monitoring base station (listen-only); the TLM-W, a two-way speaker/microphone with an electret condenser microphone and 2.5″ speaker (all within one housing); and the AP-1TB, a single zone non-alarming audio monitoring base station with listen and talkback.

The audio base station was installed at the nurses’ station, while speaker/microphone units were installed on two patient room ceilings.

The speaker/microphone units monitor audio 24/7 in the patient rooms; nurses can listen in at any time.

If the nurses want to talk with a patient, they press the talkback button on their base station, and their words will be broadcast through the speakerphone in the patient’s room.

It is primarily the nurses who use the system and have access to the audio equipment. In addition to audio, video surveillance was set up as well.

A VMS, made by Exacq Technologies, was installed. One camera was placed in each patient room. While the cameras record video, the audio is only for live monitoring.

Carl Schroeder, Director of Electronics at Suffolk Lock & Security Professionals, played a key role in the solution integration and hospital installation.

He noted that, in the past, some end users had deployed audio solutions that were integrated into cameras, but the quality was not optimal.

To ensure the highest quality for the hospital, Schroeder chose Louroe’s audio technology solution instead. He was aware of the Louroe brand as being the “go-to for surveillance situations” – and his distributor, TRI-ED, also recommended Louroe.

Schroeder said he “had heard of Louroe and their high quality products for a while” and that, “when you need a good quality microphone, that’s who you go to.”

Schroeder feels strongly that audio should be part of the overall security solution in hospital settings. “In this situation, it’s imperative to have audio for the nurses to be able to speak to the patients while safely keeping them contained in their designated unit.”

Thankfully, the hospital has yet to face a situation in which they needed to treat a patient suffering from the Ebola virus.

However, preparation is key in the domain of medical care, and in order for the hospital to properly prepare for such a scenario, it was imperative that they quickly set up a system to accommodate all the needs and precautions inherent in treating Ebola patients. According to Schroeder, “Louroe’s technology was part of the answer.”

Hardware Used:
The ASK-4 #501 is a single zone audio monitoring system with two-way listen and talkback. Remote unit contains an omni-directional electret condenser, low impedance microphone and a 2.5″ speaker, all within one housing.

Desktop base unit produces live audio and playback. Talkback from base unit to remote speaker/microphone is actuated by engaging the “push to talk” switch and speaking into the built-in microphone. Person at the remote speaker/microphone can listen and talk hands-free.

Input/output to DVR/VCR for recording and audio playback. TLM-W faceplate can be surface mounted to a plastic backbox (supplied) or flush mounted to a 3-gang electrical box.