Hospital cures its ails with meal service application

COMPANY: G. Pierce Wood Memorial Hospital
PURPOSE: Assure delivery of proper meals to patients to avoid any health risks.

APPLICATION: Sweetwood Kitchen Automation Project -- Despite having a staff ratio of three caregivers for every client, G. Pierce Wood memorial Hospital in Arcadia, Fla. finds it very difficult to assure proper nutrition for every one of the 450 severely ill patients. If not carefully supervised, patients with their diminished capacities may overeat, under eat or eat foods they are allergic too. In a worst case situation, where an allergic reaction might lead to choking, something as basic as daily meal service can present life-threatening issues.

With the full support of the hospital executive committee, the I/S department led by CIO Glenn Palmiere, began work on a new meal service application. It was designed to keep track of every meal being served to every patient, which amounts to 400,000 meals per year, and assure the right meals got to the right patients in the right portions. The system had to be a high-speed data management application that would also be easy for the non-technical caregiver staff to learn and use.

To do the job, the developers selected Cache, a post-relational DBMS from InterSystems Corp., Cambridge, Mass., for the data management portion of the application. To build the graphical user interface, they selected Visual Basic from Microsoft Corp.

One of the major obstacles facing the developers was how to build the new application without rewriting the legacy system containing critical patient information. With Cache and Visual Basic, the developers created an application that works with a 10-year-old legacy database. The new application was built and implemented in eight months.

On completion of the project, the development staff felt that Cache met the three goals of the project. First, it provided a connection to legacy data from an advanced Windows 95 interface built with Visual Basic. Second, it provided the information users needed within seconds. Third, it provided two levels of backup in case the connection to the server was lost.

- Rich Seeley



BRANT MILLER, computer programmer analyst

FRANK FAHEY, computer programmer analyst

REBECCA FISHER, office automation specialist

Protected the health and safety of patients while reducing staff time in serving meals, freeing the staff to work on more critical patient care issues.

Compaq ProLiant 1000 server for Novell NetWare server

Intergraph InterServe 640 for Windows NT server

Compaq Pentium 133 MHz with 16Mb RAM for Windows 95 clients

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.