Corrections or additions?

This article by Melinda Sherwood was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper

on November 10, 1999. All rights reserved.

Debugging Hospitals

For Wayne Misner, the millennium bug is a life

or death issue. Misner’s company, Healthcare CIO, is debugging eight

of New Jersey’s hospitals, where even a minor system failure could,

he admits, result in the death of a patient. Misner, who is overly

conscientious about his work, offers this word of warning to other

companies: "As much testing that you do, something will fall


the cracks."

"While most of the hospitals out there are safe," he says,

"there’s bound to be some failures." That’s why a "Y2K

SWAT Team" will be on duty at each of Healthcare CIO’s hospitals

during the final countdown. Misner strongly urges all members of the

medical community to come up with a similar plan. On Thursday,


11, he joins Marge Chertok of the law firm of Pitney Hardin,

and Wendy Rossi of Computer Horizons to discuss "Year 2000

at the Healthcare Industry," sponsored by Technology New Jersey,

at Pitney Hardin’s office on 200 Campus Drive in Florham Park. The

seminar is free. Call 609-419-4444.

Prior to starting his own Y2K consultancy, Misner was vice president

of the New Jersey Hospital Association and CIO of the Carrier Clinic.

A Navy brat raised Oregon, California, Massachusetts, and Hoboken,

Misner used the GI bill to train in data processing. IBM hired him

in 1958, but because computer education was unheard of, he went to

school for hospital accounting at Indiana State University, Class

of 1976. "At that time, working with computer systems, you had

to communicate with accounting people and it was easier for me to

go to school in accounting than it was for them to go to computer

school," he notes.

Misner installed the first computer system at Jersey Shore Medical

Center in 1962 and later at Morristown Memorial. He eventually became

an IT consultant for hospitals "because the CIO of a hospital

is so busy." Healthcare CIO clients include Elizabeth General

Hospital, Christ Hospital, and Atlantic City Hospital. Out of 1,500

hardware devices in South Jersey Health Systems, 153 were not


says Misner. "We went further than testing just the hardware and

software in the walls of the hospitals," he says. "We went

to vendors outside the hospitals so we wouldn’t be without water,

electric, food, or surgical supplies."

Even if a vendor’s response was that its equipment was compliant,

Healthcare CIO put it to the test. "To take one additional safety

step, after the vendor told us it was compliant we had a separate

company come in to test the hardware and software." His advice

to anyone else involved in the Y2K clean-up:

Don’t take the vendor’s word that a device is compliant.

Test all systems.

Assemble a contingency team. Call it a SWAT Team or


else, but have someone in the office when the calendar rolls over,

and have a disaster plan ready.

It’s still not too late, says Misner. The potential problems

are similar for any health organization, from physicians’ offices

to nursing homes to anyone using biomedical engineering devices.


of it can fail," says Misner, "and when we’re talking


we’re talking life and death."

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