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Custom printed spacers help to fix the new Health Center’s tech problem

The spacer inside the computer unit (Photo by: Sarah Ross)

Have you ever had a need for something so specific, but the option is either buy something that is too expensive or try and make it on your own? Well, the new CSU Health Network can relate.

“We are building a new CSU health network center over on College and Prospect, and we are installing many new computers in there,” explained Scott Lavolette, Associate Director of Information Technology for the CSU Health Network. “A lot of them will be in exam rooms.”

Space is something they do not have in their current facility. In many cases, the doctor’s office is also their patient exam room, which leads to backups with data that needs to be entered and patients waiting while the doctor finishes up the appointment before. So, to minimize this, they decided to expand their practice, which also required an expansion in technology.

“In the new building, one physician may have an office across the way but they will be working out of possibly two or three different exam rooms, so we are setting up a lot more computers in these exam rooms,” explained Lavolette. “We want to save some space, so we are going to be hooking up a mini Intel Nook computer and mount it behind the display so it does not take up room on the desk. A lot of computers are huge, desktop sizes, and we are going to be using these little 4.5” by 4.5” by 1.5” inch computers. So, what we want to be able to do is to hook the computer to the back of the monitor. The computers will be on these articulated arms that they can be mounted to, so you can move the display.”

Their only problem with this plan? The computer arms were not meant to hold both the computer and the monitor.

“What we want to do is use this bracket that the computer hooks up to, which will allow us to get the computer off the desks and out of the way,” Lavolette demonstrated. “The problem with this is that there is a hole in the back when you hook the arm to the computer. So, other companies make this part that comes in a whole kit for $30 for this little piece of plastic. You can’t buy them, we’ve tried, but no one sells them by themselves.”

That’s when they started looking for options. After a little digging, they came across our free training at the library.

“That’s when I saw an ad for one of the 3D scanning classes that Idea2Product was offering, and I didn’t really know anything about their services at the time, so I went to the class thinking I could scan one of these and print my own,” said Lavolette. “I met the folks over there and they offered to do it for me, which I didn’t even know was a service. I gave them the one I had, and he had one of the 3D folks use CAD software and design one. He provided me a couple examples and a write up on the different types of plastic we could use with a cost estimate, which was great. They said they do this all the time for folks on campus, produce things they need. So I ordered 75 of these to put in our exam rooms.”

This small discovery led to a fix to their problem, and now they are back on track for the reopening.

“We were so excited, we had started wondering if we would need to buy plywood and cut them ourselves. It is such a simple need, but you just need one to make it fit all together,” Lavolette said. “We don’t have any future projects in mind now, but this really saved us, and I’ve been talking them up to other people. It’s so cool, what they are doing for us. It’s a simple thing, but we need it and they can do it for us.”

For students wondering when they can see these computers in action at the new Health Center, you do not have to wait long.

“We are going to be moving in the week of June 19th” Lavolette said. “Everyone from Hartshorn, Aylesworth and the Health Education and Prevention services team in the building off of Shields are all moving in the 19th. We will shut down here the Friday before, on the 16th of June, and move over all the IT equipment to be set up, and everyone else will move after that. A week after the 19th, that Monday the 26th, we will be back up and running again.”

As for the Idea2Product Team, he had nothing but nice things to say.

“It’s really handy to have this service on campus,” said Lavolette. “We were really scrambling to figure out a solution, so it was nice that they were there and willing to help. I didn’t even know they could do it for us, I thought that I would have to learn it and figure it out myself, and they have a whole lab full of helpful people over there to help us. It was really nice for them to do the design, test, and the prototypes. It fit wonderfully the first time.”

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