Monday, June 30, 2008

Sucker, Part II

So, to review:

The Five Stages of Grief are:


Looking at them now, I'm chagrined to admit that it's not an appropriate descriptor in this case. Denial was momentary, went straight to Anger. Not much in the way of bargaining to be done, no one to trade with. Anger (direct, not the residual) lasted a good couple of weeks. Fortunately, when one has been even angrier, for longer, one learns to channel this energy. We'll come back to this. Depression was good for another 3-4 weeks. Acceptance came with some success. This concludes our overview.

When we last left our hero, Food Service had virtually no suction. Central Service, provider of all things sterile and clinical, was not much better. Receiving had given up on using their tube station, some months ago. The EAU and 8th floors were complaining of intermittent service and lost tubes. The two major zones weren't sinking, but they were listing hard to port, as it were.

Now, the technical description. This system is a one-tube system - the same tube is used for sending and receiving. There are 42 stations, segmented into 4 zones - 4 main routes that branch off to each station by means of diverters - think railway switch. They converge in the basement at the "Dazzler" - a conflagration of bent, rotating tubes that makes the exchange from station C12(Lab) to B11(11th fl.) possible.
Nurse Nancy puts her lab sample into bubble wrap, then puts it in the tube. She puts the tube into an arm-like holder, and enters the destination's address on a keypad. The station accepts this (usually), and moves the arm over to the gate - the closed-off opening. In the BOC (Pit of Despair, see earlier posts), A PC takes the request and lines up that zone to the station. One of the 4 large blowers in the basement fires up, vacuum is created, and the tube is pulled into the basement, into the "Dazzler". The PC then directs the "Dazzler" to line up a path to the destination station. The blower shifts from suction to pressure, and the sample winds it's way to the lab. That's it. Usually takes less than 2 minutes. There are communication links, optical sensors that track the trajectory, and log the results. We hardly ever lose a tube - it has to go somewhere, and it does. When it goes, of course. These weren't leaving the station.

As you may have experienced, pneumatic tube systems can move small items very quickly and efficiently. This beneficial service is multiplied in an institution such as ours. It is one of those things that is easily taken for granted, which, like fresh tomato on a "California Burger", can lead to outright rage when it's taken away. Food Service had had to find a different way to get patient menu selections from the floors, and the affected floors were really missing the quick and efficient transfer of minutia, like medicines from the pharmacy. My boss had set me firmly in the midst of a large steaming pasture, whether he knew it or not.

Next: Anger is an ener-gee, or Troubleshooting Things You Don't Understand.