Things that make me wonder

Take this, as an example:


Every hospital I’ve worked in does the same thing: spend thousands on computers and nothing on installation, or maintenance. Computers are set directly on the floor, not maintained until they fail, etc. This one is apparently being used to clean the air on the desk (and I chuckle when I hear about ‘hospital clean air’ after seeing these).

It makes me wonder if someone has done the math on installing computers off the floor (less ingested dust), vacuuming the things twice a year, and found it’s just not cost effective: the time and labor required don’t add up on the balance sheet? Or, is it just neglect a failure to consider all the possibilities?

This, and a thousand other things a day make me wonder. Welcome to my world.


  1. I have found that the computers are generally an after thought. For example they built new counters in a department and after they put them in realized that oh ya there is a CIC computer that needs to go here. For me to put it in I had to drill holes through the back of the filing cabinet for all of the cables. That are the computer is placed where people put drinks, cleaning grape cool-aid from a computer is not fun.

  2. It is simple neglect and usually the result of separate contracts, one for computers and peripherals, another perhaps for software, another still for furniture or interior construction, all done by people responding to departmental requests and edited and modified by supervisors trimming to budget, none of whom really understand the requirements of the computers. Also, the service life of furniture usually exceeds that of the computing equipment and are replaced on non-intersecting cycles. Expecting someone to think in advance that computers need to be elevated or placed away from walls is assuming that the vendor really has any way of specifying how or where the ordered product will be set up.

  3. It’s not just hospitals that treat its PCs this way. Both State and Federal agencies do the same thing. I should know; I’ve worked in IT at both.

  4. As the IT head of a company that makes software for 911 environments, and who used to be the head of IT for a community hospital, I can state that the time to clean systems is just not available given the relatively limited staff. The desktop support staff, who in a perfect world can move away from their desks and work with users, are pretty much constrained to fixing items in a workshop environment, where they’re expected to simultaneously provide phone support to users.

    Servers get care – that’s what system administrators are for. Desktop workstations are only useful in lockdown environments (nurse stations, 911 comm centers, etc) where laptops are impractical for reasons of security; they are high-maintenance at best, and until the last year or so, repair has been a time-consuming process involving far too many tools. In most cases, when I worked at the hospital, we generated desktops from a generic image, and swapped them when they failed, taking the broken one back, cleaning and repairing it, and putting it on the shelf to await redeployment. Just TRY to take it offline for maintenance while it’s working – the nursing staff will have your head (or whatever other parts they can reach), which led to an eventual policy of redundant systems at nursing stations.

    And physician tablet/laptops….we started using hardened military-grade devices because they could be rinsed off. Doctors have to deal with some seriously vile behavior involving bodily outputs and leakage, and we had many laptops which died bravely in the line of duty.