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TECHNOLOGY SAVES THE DAY: KEEPING OUR COMMUNITY CONNECTED & SAFE

The great-grandson of Pastor James Fresh, Dylan Fresh joins his grandfather, Doug Fresh and Uncle, Matt Fresh as the 4th generation Fresh to work for St. Mark Village. Coming to us in January 2019, Dylan has taken the lead as the St. Mark Village Technology Manager and Visual Communications Specialist, helping bring the unique St. Mark Village brand message to life. Dylan is a graduate of Calvary Christian High School in Clearwater, FL and has spent the past six years leading the Calvary Church I.T. and Technology Teams with creative and meaningful event presentations across all three of their Pinellas County locations.

 

Technology Saves the Day: Keeping Our Community Safe, Connected, and Informed with the Right Devices

By Dylan Fresh

 

When I came on board, we had a very out of date infrastructure throughout our main campus. It was a flat network where everyone was on the same subnet—from guests to Team Members to Residents. Our Highland Lakes Assisted Living campus didn’t even have Wi-Fi, they had to purchase their own services. Management devices, such as servers and switches, had network addresses. There were switches in the ceiling. There were issues with the DHCP server, and with connectivity from the client’s computer to the outbound connector. This is probably “geek speak” to most, but in a nutshell, it was not organized. The few bright spots in the chaos, some of the nearly decade-old equipment was still working.  But still, there was much work to be done – with no time to spare.

 

The Big Upgrade.

In the midst of the pandemic, we upgraded our infrastructure to provide a better quality of life for Residents and Team Members alike. We had to prioritize safety above all. With 600 Residents and 350 Team Members in mind, and the amount of care our Residents required, it was paramount for us to have a strong infrastructure to handle the increased bandwidth during the pandemic. To be expected, there was a massive shift to telecommunication and we needed a better quality of service on a broader scope to support it. As soon as we were able, we started implementation and our Teams did a complete refresh of all the equipment.

 

Many Residents in our care have not seen their families in person since March. That is hard on everyone involved. Stabilizing our network was about more than organization and ease on the back end. We were able to help our Residents, some of them in their final days, to communicate with their families.

 

Once campus-wide Wi-Fi became available, some of our Residents started seeing their families even more than they did prior to the global pandemic. The new videoconferencing capabilities and the campus-wide network were technology upgrades, but more importantly, relationship game-changers.  In our six-story building, we now have Independent Residents with up to 15 connected devices! Who would have thought that a Retirement Center would have a gigabit of uplink in and out, and that Residents are using about 750MB of that 1GB uplink at any given point over the course of the day? It’s fantastic!

 

That’s our new reality at St. Mark Village. Not only has it made my life easier in IT but allows Residents to have a better experience at our community, where many of them will live for the rest of their lives.

 

Keeping Our Community Safe, Connected, and Informed with the Right Devices 

We also spun up several automated temperature check systems and check-in kiosks that allowed vendors, families, or Residents in and out. The wireless access points are handling a VLAN just for COVID-19 check-in devices. The temperature check station takes a user’s temperature at their wrist and lets them know if they’re cleared to enter. Right next to it is an iPad where the user completes the government required form, enters their temperature, and prints out a badge that lets everyone know they’ve been screened for the day. Only then can they gain access to the building.

 

But the system does so much more! It allows us to send out emergency notifications to the devices or to the user cell phones that have checked in. It allows us to do contact tracing to see who’s been in the building. It’s pretty cool software, but before the infrastructure upgrade, we wouldn’t have been able to implement that throughout our campuses.

 

The Future.

Our goal is to focus on making our systems as efficient as possible to keep our community safe, connected and informed with the help of technology.  As we know technology is constantly evolving meaning my job is to always have an eye on the next right device(s) for St. Mark Village.  Next on our to-do list; upgrade our entire phone system, consisting of thousands of Resident and Team Member phones. We are looking forward to tackling this project because again, safety first.

 

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