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Messaging desk to desk has new role.


When Atlanta's Omni Hotel at the CNN Center needed to replace the communications system used to send messages from the front desk to the motor lobby below, management had a hard time locating something as simple to use as the previous "system."

Not only was the old method easy to learn, desk clerks literally had a ball with it since the "state-of-the-sport" message system consisted of a chute--connecting the third-floor registration area with the ground level--and a large supply of tennis balls.

Under the old system, clerks would "serve" up instructions to the bellstand two levels below by inserting a color-coded message into a tennis ball sliced open for just that purpose.

The ball was then dropped into the chute, which emptied into a basket one floor below.

Despite its uncomplicated approach, the chute did have its problems, including a tendency to clog up during peak usage> the path of the chute wasn't a straight line.

After weighing various options, the Omni Hotel installed the sound-alike Omninote Messaging System several months ago, and sent the tennis balls back to the courts.

Uses Same Electricity

A compact dest-to-desk messaging system that operates without using telephone lines, each Omminote unit weighs only 8 pounds and is roughly the size of a three-ring notebook.

Each desk unit contains a line display, printer, and fullsized typewriter keyboard.

The Omninote unit plugs into any standard three-prong wall outlet and communicates through the building's existing electrical system.

A central processing unit (CPU)--known as the controller--operates up to 150 desk units, sending messages to any or all users instantaneously.

Omninote is manufactured by Telautograph Corp., a century-old Los Angeles based company with an extensive history of involvement in facsimile transmission and other telecomm technologies.

"Omninote has been an excellent solution," says Omni Resident Manager Tom Schurr.

"It was easily installed, it runs on the existing electrical circuits, and now information can be easily typed in and sent to the bellstand."

As a result, the registration process at the Omni is much more efficient.

Schurr says the chute-and-tennis-ball setup had been a part of the Omni since the hotel opened in 1976.

At the same time, hotels are not the only place where Omninote has been speeding up the "registration" process.

At Monongalia General Hospital in Morgantown, W.V., however, "registration" is more accurately referred to as "admission."

At "Mon General" more than 30 of the desktop units are currently in service.

In a typical situation, when a new patient is admitted, Patient Registration sends a message to the nurses station on the floor where the patient's room is located.

The message lists both the patient and the doctor's name, the diagnosis, the number of the room to which the patient is being assigned, and any other pertinent information.

"The note tells the nurse and the clerical staff on that floor to prepare a chart and begin whatever other procedures are necessary," says Judy Haught, Mon General's communications director.

"And, when the patient arrives, everything is ready.

Saves 5 or 6 Calls

Other departments that need information about the new patient are notified at the same time by access to a group call name.

When a patient is admitted, a message is sent to "ALL DEPARTMENTS."

Omninote then transmits the message simultaneously to Dietary, X-Ray, Respiratory Therapy, Console, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, and Laboratory.

"In the past, it might have taken five or six phone calls to set all that up," says Haught.

Still other Omninote units were installed in the hospitals's operating room and outpatient service areas, as well as other departments.

In moving to the Omninote solution, both the hotel and the hospital followed the example of a growing number of businesses of all types.

For example, one very early Omninote user was the Washington-based law firm of Grove, Jaskiewicz, Gilliam and Cobert, which has been using 22 Omninote machines to links its 20 lawyers, receptionist and administrator for more than a year.

Members of the firm use the system to send short telegram-like messages to one another.

They report having significantly reduced telephone tag and interruptions.

When a call comes in to Grove, Jaskiewicz, and the attorney is already on the telephone, a receptionist types in the caller's name on the Omninote and sends it to the lawyer's desk unit.

The receptionist may also include the telephone number, or a short message.

The lawyer, meanwhile, hears s small beep.

He can respond:

* by pressing one of six buttons programmed with frequently used messages, such as: "Send in the call," "Forward the call" or "Take a message">

* or by sending a more specific message back to the receptionist.

A similar convenience has taken place at another law firm--San Antonio based Mc-Camish, Martin, Brown & Loeffler.

Management of this 32-lawyer firm have found that Omninote allows attorneys to get information in time to make a decision about whether or not to take an incoming call.

"Now it's the attorney and not the receptionist who makes the decision," says a spokesman for the firm.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Atlanta's Omni Hotel
Publication:Communications News
Date:Aug 1, 1990
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