McCormick Place – located just south of downtown Chicago – is the largest convention center in North America. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is responsible for preparing for and responding to natural, man-made and technological hazards, disasters and acts of terrorism.
IEMA and the city of Chicago needed to develop a strategic response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. State and city officials decided to turn McCormick Place into the McCormick Alternate Care Facility (MACF), a 3,000+-bed field hospital for COVID-19 relief efforts. With the possibility of a significant influx of patients affected by the coronavirus outbreak, the Chicago area needed the MACF as a preventive measure to ensure local hospitals didn't get overwhelmed.
Stratosphere Networks Solution
The Stratosphere team first received a call about the project on a Sunday. We knew we'd need help to get the field hospital functional ASAP, so we leveraged the relationships we have with various IT solution suppliers in our partner network to get the job done as fast as possible.
Within a few days, we had already confirmed equipment availability and designed the architecture of the telecom and IT network for the care facility. To ensure a smooth roll out on an accelerated time frame, we provided on-site and remote project management services and professional services.
The first phase of the project involved the following key components:
- Phase 1 device procurement. Despite limited stock and resources, we were able to rapidly obtain large quantities through our relationships with key suppliers and distributors.
- On-site deployment of Stratosphere engineers for set-up and installation.
- Collaboration between the Stratosphere team and various entities as part of the deployment – including the state of Illinois, the city of Chicago, Rush Medical Center, DuPage Medical Group, the Illinois National Guard and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.
- HIPAA-compliant cloud phone system deployment, including the capability to make and take calls from mobile devices procured via our partnerships with distributors.
- Project management services, including coordination of communication between all parties involved in each individual aspect of the overall project.
- Mobile Device Management and facilitation of fast-paced ways to push out apps to devices.
- Patient health record solution implementation via partnerships with other hospitals.
- Disaster recovery solutions like Desktop as a Service and LTE set up.
- Collaboration with supplier executives throughout the nation to streamline solution set-up.
- Engagement between our team, other states and hospitals to facilitate emergency IT and UC set-up.
- 24/7 help desk services for both on-site and remote issues.
- 24/7 security services for monitoring and management.
Standout Moments From Phase 1
Everyone involved in the first phase of this undertaking demonstrated incredible dedication and team spirit, putting in 12+ hour days and coming in on the weekend to get everything done in an extremely short time frame. There were numerous moments during this two-week time period when the Stratosphere Networks team, our partners and government officials came together to overcome obstacles and deliver exceptional services.
Here are just some stories that stood out to our team members as they worked tirelessly to get the field hospital up and running:
- Leveraging our extensive partner network, we brought in eight Chicago-based IT solution providers to assist with the project. All of the suppliers involved were able to bring people back from furlough to help set up the field hospital.
- Many of our partners worked without official contracts in place, in order to quickly help everyone affected by the pandemic.
- Thanks to everyone working overtime and over the weekend unboxing, configuring, testing and applying inventory tags to the devices, we also managed to have them ready to go live in just a couple days, despite all the shipment delays.
- Our lead project manager coordinated communication between all the different parties involved and leveraged our ticketing system to create specific tickets for each supplier. This allowed us to clearly establish points of contact and delegate tasks and responsibilities.
Ultimately, with the help of our partners, we were able to complete a project that usually would have taken a year or two in just two weeks. IEMA and the city of Chicago received a fully functional IT and telecom network for their field hospital, allowing them to deliver care to patients affected by COVID-19 in the event of major stresses to the healthcare network in Chicago.