Global support: Technicians refresh tri-service medical computers
January 25, 2010
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. - The expansion of an existing partnership between Tobyhanna and the Tri-care Infrastructure Management Program Office (TIMPO) has resulted in additional workload for the Computer Service and Repair Branch.
More than a dozen depot computer technicians are travelling the globe refreshing thousands of Military Health Systems (MHS) computers in Army, Navy and Marine Corps hospitals and dental clinics. Branch employees have visited about 14 sites since June and an additional 50 sites are under schedule review for installation in 2010.
The refresh replaces old hardware with new computers and printers in order to support the electronic medical health records (EMHD) used to collect patient data, according to Ed Mizanty, Logistics Management Specialist in the Production Management Directorate. EMHD is accessible worldwide and allows for doctors and nurses to update patient history quickly along with the ability to store backup data.
"The mission is progressing nicely and developing into a sizeable project for the shop," said John Sewitsky, branch chief.
TIMPO delivers and manages the communications and computing infrastructure necessary to support information technology systems deployed throughout the health system. TIMPO also provides the entire spectrum of products and services required to design, test, install, upgrade, and sustain the infrastructure worldwide. MHS is a component of TIMPO, which maintains a presence at Tobyhanna. TIMPO headquarters is located in Falls Church, Va.
"Our [the team] job is to deploy machines at locations worldwide," said Kevin Wilbur, digital computer mechanic. "The new central processing units (CPU) are shipped from here and we travel to the location to set up the equipment."
Branch employees are refreshing between 25 and 1,500 computers at each site, and installing a range of software and security programs based on customer needs. The length of an assignment can vary from one week to two months.
Wilbur explained that host units provide everything from equipment and software to ghost images. "It's the team's job to pull it all together to work within the installation's environment," he said.
Technicians are performing duties such as software imaging, data migration from a central server and any special software configuration. In addition, team members ensure proper computer/network operations by mapping drives, installing network printers and data cleansing hard drives along with inventory logging.
"All technicians are required to maintain Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and Information Assurance (IA) certification, as well as a high level of computer repair standards and networking certifications," Mizanty said.
Teams have travelled to several countries, including Korea, Germany, Bavaria, and Italy, and stateside locations such as Hawaii, Rhode Island, Texas, California and Florida. Although most jobs average about 500 computers per site, some are considerably larger.
"A ten-person team spent five weeks at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda [Md.]," said Edward Voychuk, digital computer mechanic. "We changed out 1,500 computers, performed 900 RAM upgrades and installed 75 printers. They were very organized so we were able to stick to a tight schedule."
In addition, technicians refreshed 700 computers for the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany - a job that also included sites in Italy. Landstuhl is the largest U.S. military hospital outside the continental United States.
Flexibility is the key to the mission's success, according to Voychuk and Wilbur, explaining that each installation has its own requirements and limitations to work within. While in Texas a team took a week to image the new CPUs and then returned two weeks later to deploy the systems. In California, a team copied hard drives by hooking up to a master hard drive to image each computer. Technicians in other locations worked directly from the server, or individually from a disk.
"The technicians in the branch are highly skilled and can handle most requests made by the sites," Sewitsky said. "The teams are adapting well to the different environment found at each site."
A recent meeting with TIMPO officials indicated the new mission was going well.
"We met a few weeks ago and they were pleased with what we were doing," said Jerry Dougher, chief of the Command, Control and Computer Systems Division. "Our technicians are doing an outstanding job."
Tobyhanna Army Depot is the Defense Department's largest center for the repair, overhaul and fabrication of a wide variety of electronics systems and components, from tactical field radios to the ground terminals for the defense satellite communications network. Tobyhanna's missions support all branches of the Armed Forces.
About 5,600 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania.
Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army CECOM Life Cycle Management Command. Headquartered at Fort Monmouth, N.J., the command's mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.