SSHA, Hydro One Telecom and Ontera Join to Implement Innovative Health Care Network in Northern Ontario



    TORONTO, Aug. 9 /CNW/ - Northern Ontario residents will soon benefit from
improved access to health care as a result of the recent collaboration of
Smart Systems for Health Agency (SSHA), Hydro One Telecom (HOT) and Ontera, a
division of Ontario Northland.
    Representatives from the three agencies joined together with Nipissing
MPP Monique Smith on Thursday to make the announcement and share details of an
innovative new telecommunications network that will benefit healthcare
providers and in turn, residents in the region.
    SSHA is introducing a dedicated high performance network that will
provide the backbone for technology enabled healthcare services which will be
used by health care institutions and professionals across Ontario to share
patient information securely and reliably. This represents a major upgrade to
SSHA's network in terms of bandwidth and security.
    Michael Lauber, Chair, SSHA Board of Directors, said: "This network
upgrade is already improving patient care. In pilot locations, the increased
network capacity allows patients to have their x-rays and other diagnostic
images viewed by radiologists in one hour rather than two days in the past.
Images can now be sent electronically to specialists regionally or even
provincially if needed, instead of being couriered.
    "We are already working with hospitals in northern Ontario. If all goes
well, they should have their network upgraded by the end of this year."
    "Innovation and collaboration have become the hallmarks of our
government's approach to many issues," Nipissing MPP Monique Smith said. "The
creation of this dedicated high performance network is a significant milestone
in the growth of Ontera and will improve healthcare throughout northern
Ontario."
    "This is wonderful news for the North," commented the Honourable Rick
Bartolucci, Minister of Northern Development and Mines. "It is great to see
our provincial agencies working together to benefit the health care system in
our region and the province."
    HOT is providing the dedicated core section to SSHA's new
telecommunications network and has selected Ontera to implement and connect
all of the healthcare sites in northeastern Ontario, known as local health
integration network (LHIN) 13 and to work in partnership with TBay Tel to
implement all of the sites in northwestern Ontario, LHIN 14.
    "Hydro One Telecom was very pleased to be awarded the Network Refresh
Project by SSHA and it provides additional validation of the quality of our
core network. The scope of the plan is tremendous and is matched by the
geography and complexities of providing significantly improved health services
across Ontario," commented Paul Marchant, President, Hydro One Telecom.
    "Ontera's proven record of success allows us to create a partnership that
delivers on an ambitious goal to provide northern Ontario residents the type
of health care and services we want for our families, regardless of where we
live. A program like this one goes beyond providing a service; this initiative
delivers an improved quality of life."
    "We are excited to take part in this project, which will have significant
positive outcomes for all northerners," said Ted Hargreaves, Chair of the
Ontario Northland Transportation Commission. "This partnership, with the Smart
Systems for Health Agency and Hydro One Telecom, clearly demonstrates our
commitment to contributing to the economic prosperity and development of
northern Ontario."
    "The scale of this project and the impact that it will have on residents
of northern Ontario is extremely significant. 117 healthcare facility sites
will be connected through over 1,500 kilometers of network running east-west,
and 844 kilometers running north-south," said Paul Goulet, Vice President of
Ontera, in speaking of the project implementation in both northeastern and
northwestern Ontario. "In addition, the enhancements we implement for this
project will also benefit Ontera's work across the north."
    "Ontario Northland and Ontera continue to act as economic and development
engines for the North," said Ron Marleau, President of Ontario Northland's
General Chairpersons Association, which represents the Company's unionized
workforce. "This project reinforces our role in connecting the north, as we
work to provide the residents and businesses of northern Ontario with access
to quality communication services."
    The network enhancements will progressively provide the backbone for
telemedicine, where patients in one community can access the services and
knowledge of medical specialists from other communities, using
teleconferencing and the secure network for the transfer of information.
Medical records and imaging documents (i.e. x-rays, MRIs) can be shared over
the secure network - reducing patient wait times and providing increased
access to medical resources for residents of smaller and rural communities.

    Smart Systems for Health Agency (www.ssha.on.ca)

    Smart Systems for Health Agency (SSHA) electronically connects Ontario
health care professionals to patient information - contributing to more
informed decisions by those treating us.
    SSHA is an agency of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
from which it receives 100 per cent of its funding. Its products and services
are free for publicly-funded health care organizations and professionals.

    Hydro One Telecom (www.hydroonetelecom.com)

    Established in 2000 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Hydro One Inc., Hydro
One Telecom leverages its parent company's telecommunications assets and
delivers state-of-the-art, broadband telecommunications solutions to carriers,
ISPs, and large public and private sector customers.
    Hydro One Telecom Inc. is a CRTC-registered, non-dominant,
facilities-based carrier, providing broadband telecommunications services in
Ontario with connections to Montreal and Buffalo, New York and Detroit,
Michigan. Its fibre network spans over 4,000 km.
    Hydro One Inc. is a holding company that operates through its
subsidiaries in electricity transmission and distribution and telecom
businesses. One of its subsidiaries, Hydro One Networks Inc., operates one of
the largest transmission and distribution systems in North America. Hydro One
Inc. is wholly owned by the Ontario government.

    Ontera (www.ontera.ca)

    Ontera, a fully integrated telecommunications company, offers a wide
range of telecommunications and IP-based solutions including Internet, local,
long distance, voice, data, and information technology services throughout
northern Ontario. Ontera is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Ontario Northland
Transportation Commission, an operational enterprise of the Province of
Ontario.
    Ontario Northland, established in 1902, is a recognized leader in
creating prosperity in the North by providing innovative telecommunication and
transportation solutions.





For further information:

For further information: Paul Kilbertus, Director of Communications,
Smart Systems for Health Agency, (416) 586-4327 or 1-888-411-7742; David
Hurst, Director of Marketing, Hydro One Telecom, (416) 580-5805; Beverly
Martin, Chief Communications Officer, Ontario Northland*Ontera, (705) 472-4500
or 1-800-363-7512 ext. 265

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ONTERA

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Ontario Northland Transportation Commission

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