Mid Coast Hospital is launch site for new high-speed, high-capacity fiber optic network in Maine

Dubbed the "Three-Ring Binder," the state's new 1,100 mile long high-speed, high capacity fiber optic network is designed to connect 600 rural "anchor institutions"-hospitals, physician offices, educational institutions, and government offices-with each other, the rest of the state, and beyond.

Marking completion of the first five-mile leg of the network along the Route 1 corridor, officials of Great Works Internet (GWI) and investor-formed Maine Fiber Company gathered for a ribbon-cutting at Mid Coast Hospital to launch an aggressive three-year program to complete and link the three rings of the network-southern, down east, and northern.

Mid Coast Hospital, seeking wide area network connectivity for it secure electronic medical record system, became the first anchor institution in the system.

"Through our search and work with GWI and the Three-Ring Binder project, we have been able to achieve both management and information technology goals for today and our future requirements," said John Stoy, the hospital's chief information officer.

"We have increased our wide area network connectivity speed more than 10 times, and at the same time reduced the cost of our infrastructure," he said..

The fiber optic system allows Mid Coast to better serve its patients by providing primary care, specialists, and referring physician access to medical records, lab findings, and diagnostic reports.

For example, doctors at Mid Coast can now rapidly transmit CT scans of stroke patients to neurologists in Portland and have real-time consultations over a secure network called Telestroke. This means that when a person arrives at the hospital with symptoms of stroke, physicians can make quick diagnoses and start treatment when seconds count most.

The ultimate benefit of the widened system, participants in the ribbon cutting said, will come in the years ahead as the system-funded by $25.4 million in federal stimulus money and an additional $7.5 million inprivate investment-is expanded to provide broadband internet service to an estimated 110,000 households.

"The practical effect," said GWI Chief Executive Officer Fletcher Kittredge," will be to shrink distances within Maine and between Maine and the rest of the world."