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ETC Unison Mosaic brings quiet to recovering newborns at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin NICU

Mosaic in Children's Hospital of Wisconsin

Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa is consistently ranked as one of the best children's hospitals in the U.S., and contains the first and largest Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in the state. "We provide state-of-the-art care for more than 700 infants each year," says Ann Grippe, clinical nurse specialist at Children's Hospital. "We are capable of caring for any newborn, regardless of diagnosis." Following its record of excellence, the hospital recently called on ETC in order to contribute to its mission of supporting shorter stays and a better quality of life to its patients.

During the first phase of its NICU transformation, private patient rooms were designed to address the unique developmental needs of its tiniest patients, while a second redesign and expansion phase is scheduled to open in late 2016. ETC dealer DesignLab helped Children's Hospital equip 26 of 59 NICU rooms with a state-of-the-art audio-monitoring system. Premature infants are in a rapid state of development and are very sensitive to noise, which can greatly affect recovery time within a hospital setting. "Previously we only relied on ourselves to monitor the noise levels. We would do intermittent checks with a decibel reader, but we needed something that could remind us of noise levels continuously," Grippe explains. The goal was clear: the hospital needed a simple, maintenance-free system to alert its staff of critical noise levels. 

Mosaic in Children's Hospital of Wisconsin

Children's Hospital worked with DesignLab to install two ETC Unison Mosaic® Show Controllers and 13 Mosaic Remote Audio Devices with several Mosaic LED Drivers at the helm. Doug MacDonald, systems group manager at DesignLab, chose Mosaic products, because he loves the way they can be easily used in stand-alone installations: "I have used most of the alternatives on the market and it's clear to me that Mosaic is top of the class in its field. The wide variety of inputs and outputs makes it easy to adapt the controllers to many needs, whether it's audio, DALI, contact closure, analog inputs, DMX, serial DVI or Ethernet. It's hard to imagine a type of sensor or other system we might need to interface with that Mosaic could not handle." 

One of the largest challenges the team faced was figuring out how to install 26 individual audio inputs without overloading the controllers. Mosaic Show Controllers can run sophisticated triggers and light cues without the need for complex programming, making it an easy 'instant-on' compact solution for all types of venues. "We're probably handling over 100 audio triggers per second when the rooms are all occupied," says MacDonald. "Keeping the programming clean and simple was necessary to avoid bogging the system down."

Mosaic in Children's Hospital of Wisconsin

Small LED lights embedded within the walls of each of the 26 rooms change color to indicate rising noise levels. When audio levels reach 55 dB, the LEDs turn amber, and when noise reaches a critical level of 65 dB, they turn bright red. They even blink if the room is too noisy for too long. 

Once the 26 private suites were opened for regular use in November 2014, the benefits of the Mosaic installation were immediately clear. "Having a visual reminder to keep voices low is an example of how we're integrating technologies into the hospital to promote better outcomes for babies, which can lead to shorter hospital stays," says Grippe.

Several ETC technicians helped DesignLab and Children's Hospital get the cutting-edge technology. "We were very pleased with the support and dedication the team of engineers gave us. They were meticulous," describes Grippe. 

MacDonald, whose triplets spent time in the hospital's NICU facility, recognizes the positive impact this installation will have on the hospital's preemies and newborns: "I think this type of audio-monitoring system can provide a real value to hospitals who strive to improve their patient care, and real improvements to patients who need to recuperate. It was an honor to be allowed to work in this environment."

Photo credit: Children's Hospital of Wisconsin