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CEO Darcy Davis shadows District's IT department in "Walk a Mile"

Anthony, Walton, Darcy, Michael and Monica in the I T department

So in the spirit of full disclosure, and to set the baseline of my (lack of) understanding, I should share from the outset that my Computer Science grade in college was probably my lowest grade of all classes, even worse than Intermediate Accounting!

This will not come as any shock to the ever-patient IT team, who will vouch for my remedial approach to technology. But that said, I went to this “Walk a Mile” with high hopes of bridging my understanding of their world.

Michael at his desk with Darcy smile for the camera

Michael Maldonado
Help Desk Coordinator

First on the agenda was a visit with Michael Maldonado from the Help Desk. Finally, I put a face with a name and a friendly voice. Michael is on the front lines of our computer complaints, and yet he seems like a pretty happy guy. He was excited to share his processes with me and is obviously a very patient individual.

I asked him how he dealt with the barrage of concerns thrown at him, sometimes at a high volume and swift pace, and he just said that he “doesn’t take it personally.” He sees his role as a problem solver and seeks to help keep us all productive.

We walked through the process of adding a new employee to the various IT systems that are necessary, based upon the supervisor’s User Request form. We waited for a call to come in so I could observe that “triage” process, but during my time with him, no calls were received. I was told I should visit more often.

Despite the lack of phone calls that day, there was still plenty of work to be done. The team of Help Desk coordinators uses a shared site to track their open and closed workloads. These range from vendor support, remote web portal (104 web portals are used by District employees) to application and hardware support, as well as the user registration forms.

Their processes are well organized and, based on what I was seeing, the response times that were under their control, and not dependent on an outside vendor, were stellar. Great job, Help Desk!

Darcy and Monica standing side by side at Monicas desk

Monica Georgelis
Software Engineer

Next I went to see Monica Georgelis, Software Engineer. I had met Monica when she was working at Lakeside. But had not spent any time with her since she came back into a dedicated role supporting TH135, the Aeromedical software.

Monica is actively working on an update to the existing system that would allow the data to be entered via iPads. This will be hugely beneficial to our Trauma Hawk pilots so that they can enter data on a real-time basis. We perused some of the FAA mandated information that is captured, such as weight and balance information, flight times, engine cycles etc.

She showed me the pilot view on the portable device before she switched over to the screen with all of the code. Not only is Monica making the user interface friendly, but she is actually writing the code in the background to make the program work.

As soon as she went to that screen, she was showing me those punctuation marks that supposedly outline the logic, but all I saw was flashbacks to computer science class! I commend anyone who can speak a foreign language fluently, but especially those who can speak in “code.”

Monica demonstration T H 1 3 5 on an i Pad for Darcy

Monica is very enthusiastic about this project and was impressively using the aeromedical lingo that she had picked up as she has immersed herself in this industry which was so new to her, having come from the hospital previously.

Anthony standing side by side with Darcy

Anthony Stamile,
IT Field Coordinator

I left Monica and drove over to the Lantana Primary Care Clinic to meet Anthony Stamile, IT Field Coordinator. He had a support ticket (passed along by one of the Help Desk Coordinator’s no doubt) to help diagnose and correct a computer workstation that was no longer connecting to our network. I stood awkwardly in the clinic waiting room while he crawled under the desk to check various wall and computer connections to no avail.

We then walked quickly through the clinic space up to the second floor area that was occupied by the Health Department staff to gain access to the network closet. He started tracing those colored, spaghetti wires looking for #26.

As he is a man of few words, I started asking him a lot of pesky questions, which he fielded with the same patience the rest of the team had exhibited. So what are you looking for? What do you think happened? Did it work last week? Can you fix it? Why are there two outlets that say #26? Why so many colors?

Anthony looking through tangled wires in a rack of switches

Anthony took my questions in stride, and while I didn’t get a specific answer to each annoying question I asked, he did indicate that the Health Department had done some work on their server over the previous weekend and may have inadvertently unplugged one of our connections. After snaking through those wires like he was untangling Christmas tree lights, he found the culprit, reconnected it and we were done.

In his role, like those of the other field coordinators, they are constantly troubleshooting problems and using their deep base of hardware and sometimes software expertise to help those of us who find computer technology so foreign. They are often on the road helping our remote locations stay operational.

I asked one final question as we were leaving about what was the craziest call or IT problem he had to help solve at the Health Care District. Anthony smiled but said he couldn’t think of anything.

I suddenly felt guilty thinking back and wondering if one of my numerous calls to the Help Desk topped that list, and secretly vowed to spend more time trying to solve my next connectivity problem on my own before reaching out to Anthony or Jay or Alfonso or Jason, all of whom I know on a first name basis from previous support calls.

Darcy and Walton standing side by side in the data center

Walton Rodney
Microsoft Systems Administrator

Walton Rodney is the Microsoft Systems Administrator whose responsibility includes oversight of our servers at our new Data Center. About a year ago, Cindy Yarbrough, Director of IT, brought a proposal to me that would have us move out of our existing data center at our Corporate Headquarters in Palm Springs and into a shared location with Palm Beach County. This new location was state of the art and had benefits we could never duplicate on 10th Avenue without a massive financial investment.

With the Board’s approval, we got the go-ahead to make the move. You may or may not know that any of this occurred and that such a transition had taken place, because frankly, that was the point.

The move was made with very minimal disruption to all of us end-users. As a result, today we should feel secure that even in a severe weather event, our IT systems are protected.

Darcy and Walton standing in the data center

The new location has fire suppression systems with active alerts, redundant power, redundant cooling systems, and the building is designed to withstand a Category 5 storm. Just getting to the building and working our way inside felt like a highly sophisticated, covert operation. The “unmarked” building is discrete and remote, and access is limited to only an authorized few, of which Walton is one.

As we toured this immaculate, but frigidly-cold, facility Walton explained that moving this center also gave us the ability to revamp our network infrastructure.

Darcy and Walton in the data center standing in front of network switches

IT moved us away from a flat network to one with logical separation. Servers can now be segregated based on data classification and access can be granted accordingly.Walton checks in on our equipment often and can monitor it remotely via cameras in the data center.

If I had to pick a program or department that has made the most significant change since I arrived here five years ago, I would have to say it’s IT.

This dedicated team is truly customer service oriented and strives to improve our work lives every day.

In the last few years we have made major and minor financial investments in our technological infrastructure.

Now granted, we are not done, and there is more to do to bring us further along the technology track, but tremendous progress has been made to advance our interests.

This is a great team who can take us across the finish line (and I’m not just saying that because I need them to fix my computer…).

Darcy Davis with the I T team Back row, from left: Jay Goodfellow, IT Field Coordinator; Francisco Reynoso, MS Systems Engineer; Walton Rodney, MS Systems Administrator; and Tim Taylor, Systems Analyst III. Front row, from left: Anthony Stamile, IT Field Coordinator; Jason Jampole, IT Field Coordinator; Andrew Maniscalco, Network Engineer-Voice; Darcy Davis, CEO; Michael Maldonado, Help Desk Coordinator; Monica Georgelis, Software Engineer; Cindy Yarbrough, Director of Information Systems; Jacqueline Uzice, Systems Analyst III; Nicole White, Senior Administrative Assistant; Dragan Dujan, UNIX Admin; Ayube Ramjhohn, Help Desk Coordinator; and Nigel Simms, MS Systems Engineer. Not pictured: Alfonso Cruz, III, Manager of IT Service Support; James Della-Pietra, LMC IT Manager; Chuck Fall, Systems Analyst I; Claudia Faulkner, IT Project Manager; Derrick Chong You, Field Service Coordinator; Jemmin Pellan, Systems Analyst II; Katherine Wilburn, Help Desk Coordinator; Philip Thompson, Senior Help Desk Coordinator; Winston Maragh, IT Field Coordinator; Javi Kasravi, LMC Clinical Informatist; and Yanelis Molina, IT Manager-Primary Care Clinics.