Modernizing the Cleveland VA’s Electronic Health Record System

Harrington Contact:

Christina Lutz
[email protected]
(330) 730-7999

The Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center

The special shirts we designed for the Harrington Electric EHRM project team.

By the Numbers

What does it take to modernize technology at a large medical facility such as the Cleveland VA? Let’s review some of the numbers to find out:

2 MILLION FEET – The total amount of copper Cat6A installed through the facility.

180,000 FEET – The total amount of single mode and multi-mode fiber.

57 – Total technology rooms in the facility that are being upgraded.

12,000 – Total amount of cables.

5,600 – Total amount of drops throughout the building.

6:00 a.m. – Starting time of a daily Harrington work shift onsite (to accommodate the normal operations of the facility).

$7.7 MILLION – Total cost of the project.

In what is fast becoming one of the year’s most involved technology projects for our company, Harrington Electric Co., working in tandem with Greenspace Construction Services and Veterans Electrical Group, has teamed with Cleveland’s Veterans Affairs Medical Center to assist in modernizing the VA’s outdated electronic health record system, in an effort to help transform health care for the area’s Veterans.

The project is being completed at the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, a facility that is very familiar to Harrington Electric professionals, having worked on a host of projects there over the past decade.

The Cleveland Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM) project got underway last January, and involves building and upgrading infrastructure to support deployment of new software and technology that will store health information and track all aspects of patient care. The new system connects VA medical facilities with the Department of Defense, the U.S. Coast Guard and participating community care providers, allowing clinicians to easily access a Veteran’s full medical history in one location, according to the VA.

When completed, the new EHR will provide a seamless and paperless transition for Veterans as they move from receiving DOD care while on active duty to receiving care at VA facilities across the country. The system also gives VA providers secure access to patients’ complete medical history from the time they entered military service through their transition to Veteran status and beyond.

The project is being led by the Harrington Electric team under the leadership of Lorne Williamson, Christina Lutz and Rich Harrold, who, along with a team of up to 16 professionals, have been working sometimes seven-day shifts since April, (and soon to be split shifts), to meet the stringent deadlines required by the VA, which is projecting a 2024 completion date.

Building and upgrading the infrastructure requires installing the fiber optic distribution backbone, upgrading a total of 57 technology rooms (TR) onsite, and re-cabling of the majority of Cat6 (to Cat6A) data cabling. To do that has required expansion of some TRs, and upgrading equipment, fiber and panels.

The most challenging aspect of this project, according to Lorne Williamson, is that the VA medical center must remain operational while the transition is taking place. That means keeping all current systems up and running, while concurrently installing and testing the new systems.

“It takes some experience and a bit of creativity to replace a lot of the cable,” explained Williamson. “In most cases, we have to bring in new cable using current pathways, while leaving the old cable in place. Everything has to be very precise, from staging and testing to migration and cut-over, so as not to interrupt the facility’s operations.”

“To do this requires very delicate workplan on everyone’s part,” he continued. “Thankfully, we’ve built a very good rapport with the team at the VA, and have had lots of cooperation with the staff onsite. It’s definitely made the logistical component less stressful, thanks to our mutual relationship.”

The project at the Cleveland VA Medical Center – the third-largest VA hospital in the U.S. – is slated to be completed in 2024, and is one of 250 VA facility modernization projects around the country. The VA expects to roll out the new EHR to all of its facilities nationwide over the course of several years.