As part of its recent expansion, Welia Health in Mora created an improved radio room, continuing a partnership with local radio operators to provide emergency communication.
“Amateur radio is the means of communication when all else fails,” said Ken Broshofske, board chairman of the Mora Open Repeater Association, a non-profit amateur radio organization serving Kanabec and surrounding counties. “We’re diverse in our capabilities. We’ll be there to help in an emergency.”
The VHF/UHF station was completed on Tuesday, Feb. 4. VHF (Very High Frequency) and UHF (Ultra High Frequency) wavelengths are used for remote contact to a central base. Both have their strong points in an emergency setting. UHF signals carry better amid obstructions, and provide greater range and performance around buildings. VHF signals travel farther, providing better performance outdoors and in open spaces.
Local radio operators began working with the hospital in 2008. “The biggest change is logistical,” Broshofske said. “Our previous station was in a small room on the second floor, not at all in proximity to health care providers.”
“I was assigned what’s called ‘the owners’ rep’ on the $52 million expansion we just completed,” said Mark Vizenor, facility operations manager at Welia Health. “Even though medical real estate can be a scarce commodity, the administration supported the ham (amateur) radio room.”
“When they began the expansion, they came to me and asked what was needed for emergency communication,” said Broshofske. “I said what was needed was proximity to where the action is, readily available, with two ham radio stations and computer access.”
“Welia was very accommodating, and Mark came up with a great design. They made space in the emergency wing on the first floor, adjacent to a meeting room which becomes a command center in an emergency situation.”
Broshofske said that Welia Health has set the standard for all other regional hospitals to follow. “They’ve gone out of their way to get this set up, and at our December meeting we recognized them with a public service award. And now we’d really like to thank Mark publicly.”
Still to be added is a HF (High Frequency) station. HF signals can be sent and received over hundreds or even thousands of miles, making them an excellent tool between field locations or base stations across wide expanses.
“HF will take us to another level in communications capability,” Broshofske said. “We’ll be able to communicate across the Upper Midwest, and even nationally. We’ve also had great support from the emergency managers in Kanabec, Pine and Mille Lacs counties; they understand the role ham radio has played in emergency situations.”
“In the event of a catastrophic event, Welia Health is in a good position to maintain quality patient care and support the community,” Vizenor said. “The ham radio operators are an important part of this.”
For more about Mora Open Repeater Association, visit morahamradio.com.