Irish firm vital in US response to Katrina

24 May 2006

As the gulf region of the US braces itself for the onset of this year’s hurricane season, it has emerged that a remote access solution for doctors provided by Irish security hardware company AEP Networks proved vital in the emergency response effort following last year’s Hurricane Katrina.

AEP Networks’ Netilla Security Platform (NSP) provided doctors with a remote access solution that kept them in touch with an emergency services temporary hospital set up to care for Hurricane Katrina victims.

Last year’s Hurricane Katrina devastated the gulf coast and laid waste to one of America’s most historic and culturally vibrant cities, New Orleans.

“Hurricane season begins again next week and I am reminded of how helpful the NSP was during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005,” said Terry Evans, CIO of Thibodaux Regional Medical Centre.

“Emergency response after the hurricane hit was critical. If it hadn’t been for the NSP, doctors and labs wouldn’t have been able to connect with the hospital. By setting up remote access, we lessened the ‘life or death’ situation.”

Thibodaux Regional worked with the Red Cross, which had created a makeshift hospital in dormitory rooms at the local university. Doctors worked at the university ‘hospital’ to triage patients. Physicians could sign on to the network and applications just as if they were in their offices. Because the NSP gave the doctors remote access to patient information, laboratory results and so on, turnaround time for patient care was very quick, Evans said.

Remote access for doctors was already in place at Thibodaux Regional prior to Hurricane Katrina. Doctors can view rounds reports and laboratory results, conduct patient care inquiries or access any of the MEDITECH software modules remotely via the NSP. The look and feel is exactly the same as if they were working on the network on their office PCs.

“The temporary hospital created after Hurricane Katrina has since been dismantled but this was a great lesson in disaster recovery,” said Evans. “We have the capability to establish access anywhere. Because there are other local hospitals using the NSP/MEDITECH environment, we could quickly port our data and provide access through their network in the event our facilities are ever affected by other storms.”

Reggie Best, general manager of AEP Networks’ applications business, added: “Thibodaux Regional has been ranked in the top 1pc of US hospitals in patient satisfaction, as evidenced by the tremendous care given to evacuees from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

“We are proud that the NSP product enabled secure and efficient access to patient data, expediting communications between doctors, labs, the temporary hospital and Thibodaux Regional,” Best concluded.

AEP Networks was established in December 2004 following the merger of Dublin firm AEP Systems and Netilla Networks combined with the raising of an additional US$5m in funding from existing investors.

AEP Networks’ solutions enable both secure remote access as well as internal (site-to-site) communications. The company said it planned to increase its market penetration thanks to cross-selling opportunities into its combined customer base of more than 1,200 enterprise clients worldwide, mainly in the healthcare, public sector and financial services markets.

By John Kennedy