LITS Network Services goes the extra mile during COVID-19

photo of employees

The hundreds of Avaya telephones ready to be picked up.

As the COVID-19 crisis began to take form, it became apparent that a few teams in LITS would need to rise to the challenge of staying on campus to perform critical work. The members of LITS Network Services knew their role would be vital as Emory addressed the pandemic and transitioned to a remote, but still productive enterprise.

Network Services is made up of Field Services (who do on-site installations), the Network Engineer Build Team (who install new equipment), the Network Engineer Run Team (who maintain existing equipment), the Coordinator Team (manages telephony provisioning and configuration), and a few other specialized teams.

Starting on Monday, March 23, the Field Services leadership realized their crews needed to pay attention to social distancing while they were working in the field. Says Tommy Barwick (supervisor, Field Services), “The climate at Emory was changing and we needed to protect our patients, customers, and especially our own team.” They decided to split the team into three shifts of one-week-on-two-weeks-remote so that if someone had come into contact with the virus, they would be isolated long enough to return to work. The leaders have the same schedule and have been operating under this schedule ever since.

Network Services has been involved in three major efforts: telephony installation, access point installation, and installation of remote sites with full network access.


There has been a large-scale need from EHC and the University to get 500+ phones installed at homes for remote workers, such as call center employees and remote nurses who would be supporting a new COVID number. These phones were provisioned, configured and subsequently picked up from 1762 by customers who would set them up at home themselves. Field Services brought folks in over the weekend to help complete this job in about four days, which included acquiring needed ancillary parts to enable the phones to be powered up. The Coordinator Team also worked around the clock to make sure the phones were configured correctly and ready to go out the door.

Access Points

Eighteen access points (APs) needed to be installed at Yerkes to implement a pair of COVID testing sites. These sites were crucial in the earliest days of testing to try to find treatments and potentially a life-saving vaccine.

Full installs

All of the network services teams had to come together quickly to implement full network installations for popup clinics that are testing for COVID-19 at St. Joes, John’s Creek, Midtown, Executive Park, the EUH valet area, the Woodruff residential center, the Student Activity Center (on the Clairemont Campus), and Wesley Woods. The Engineering teams configured the equipment on campus and the field services teams then physically visited each clinic site to install the equipment. All of this with the goal of providing the hardware and ports for healthcare providers to easily connect to wireless APs and printers.

Kudos from Leadership

Of this overall effort, no one is prouder than Network Services Director, Wayne Ortman. He says,

“The shift to a remote working environment presented multiple unique challenges for Network Services as overnight we were suddenly thrust into being a part of the critical response path for functions and needs across the entire institution. The work they did in mere days represented more than a month’s worth of work under normal conditions and the situation was far from normal. In addition to the dramatic increase in workloads, we were also dealing with the same stress and anxiety of what this disease would mean to the health and wellbeing for those who mean the most to us. Without complaint, they simply threw the best that they had at these challenges and worked around the clock and through weekends to turn around these requests.”

“I would like to personally say ‘thank you’ to each and every member of the team for their individual sacrifices and contributions and let them know that there are no words that can capture just how proud I am of what they have accomplished.”

Others added their thanks:

  • Mary Kay O’Brien (director, client services, EHC) says, “The collaboration has been amazing. These teams have been exceptional, and the quick turnaround has saved lives.”
  • Lamar Kelly (associate director, Field Services) says, “I am extremely proud of these efforts. These employees put Emory first and completed crucial work in a time of crisis and great need. We are indebted to their continued service.”
  • Barwick adds, “The Field Services team is like family. Risks aside, these guys would walk through fire for one another and the mood has been fantastic. The overall spirit has been inspiring.”
  • Tanisha Martin (manager, Coordinator Team) says, “It was definitely a joint effort between the Coordinator Team and Field Services. It was rough but the whole team pulled together with smiles. I was impressed at how they dealt with the stress. It made me proud to be part of a team like that.”

Jarrell Brown (communications specialist, Field Services) may have said it best by saying, “We came together in this moment of need to become close – like a family. When someone goes through a hard time, we strive to lift that person up, not just because of this situation, but because we are a team and we will stay strong!”

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