People of the U: Josh Warren
Published on Wednesday, September 23, 2020
By: Bruce Coleman
He gets called whenever pediatric clinical employees have reached their wits’ end with technology, and quickly sets their minds at ease with a simple joke and dependable service.
He helps shorten wait times for dreaded computer updates by telling tales of his BMX bike races or the exploits of his various farm animals, especially one plucky pet rooster that seemingly lives just to torment him.
He quietly unpacks and prepares essential clinical software systems in the new Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower at Children’s of Mississippi so health care workers will be able to deliver specialized pediatric services when the facility opens this fall.
And in his spare time, he helps sick children stuck in a boring hospital setting connect with their friends, switching their focus to entertaining and instructional video games rather than uncomfortable clinical procedures.
Josh Warren is a modern-day superhero cloaked as an information technology specialist. At least that’s the way Kim Barrier, a pediatric nurse educator, likes to see him.
“Anytime we have a computer problem, no matter what it is, Josh is who we call,” Barrier said. “If you were to come to the hospital and see the sheer volume of computers we have, it’s overwhelming. He knows everything when it comes to those computers.
“For every single person in Children’s of Mississippi, he’s their ‘go-to’ guy for any computer needs.”
She said Warren’s expertise - and his willingness to help in a crisis - isn’t limited to pediatrics.
“When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, I was part of the Command Center for UMMC Reserves,” she said. “We were set up in the School of Nursing, which was outside of Josh’s jurisdiction. We had a computer problem, so I texted him and asked if he wouldn’t mind looking at it.
“He came over and fixed our issue, which was just awesome. He is literally one of the best people.”
A native of the Pearl/Brandon area, Warren came to UMMC in late 2011 as a contract employee for a third party company and, when an opportunity in the Division of Information Systems came along the following spring, he joined the Medical Center full-time.
“Hospitals don’t close,” Warren said, “so I thought it was a pretty good chance to have longevity and security.”
He’s been keeping the Medical Center’s diverse pediatric clinical computer systems secure ever since.
“With the ever-changing day-to-day workflow in pediatrics, there’s always something different popping up,” he said. “It doesn’t stop and it’s fast-paced.”
It’s a job with such a frantic pace - and a tremendous professional responsibility - that it doesn’t often lend itself to solemnity very easily. Yet Warren’s even temperament and casual-yet-professional approach to any IT issue is almost legendary among his peers.
“There’s a social side to Josh,” said his supervisor, Shelvalian Ware. “You’re not going to feel down or overwhelmed around him. If you’re having an issue, he’ll pick you up.”
“Everybody loves Josh - he’s the nicest guy and he is just cool,” Barrier said. “He’s always got a smile on his face. I’ve never seen him overwhelmed. He gets called sometimes for the simplest things - I imagine most of his day is like that - but he says it’s fine, no problem.
“He has a totally pleasant demeanor no matter what we call him for. He’s super tolerant of us clinical folks who could probably fix it ourselves if we thought hard enough, but he fixes it anyway and never complains.”
It’s a quality Ware, field support manager for health care, treasures about Warren.
“Josh’s work ethic is strong,” she said. “There is no task too small or too large for Josh to tackle. He has a determination and drive to ensure whatever task you set for him, he is going to accomplish.
“He brings a lot to the team. He helps out his teammates with any task they have and volunteers for others, which is sometimes hard to find in a technician. Whether day shift or night shift, he comes in and puts his name in the hat.”
It’s a work ethic that is doubtlessly influenced by his home and recreational life. He and his young bride - the couple celebrated their first wedding anniversary this month - share a small farm south of Florence with seven horses, five dogs, six cats and about two dozen chickens. Keeping up with all those animals could be considered a chore of its own - especially one rather rambunctious rooster named Condor.
“He chases me around the yard,” Warren said. “He will run under a car and hide, then shoot out at me to startle me. It scares you - but then you look down and there’s this little chicken all bowed up, staring at you.
“If I take off running or jogging, he’ll run after me until he catches me or gets tired trying. He only does that to me. He’s very sneaky.”
Tales of Condor and the other animals on his farm and his passion for woodworking, working on cars or racing BMX bikes - until recently, Warren served as a board member on the governing body for a local BMX track - have kept his colleagues entertained for years. But those stories have also endeared him to countless Children’s of Mississippi patients as well,
“There are a lot of children who bring their X Boxes and games to play with while they are hospitalized,” Ware said. “Nurses will call Josh because they know he will come help them get set up with the UMMC public Wi-Fi so they can connect with their friends and enjoy their games. The floor receives a lot of donated equipment, and Josh spends countless hours getting it up to speed so the youth can utilize it for their enjoyment while in the hospital.
“He’s even brought batteries and changed them out of a race car so one of the little kids could play with it. That’s not something he has to do, but it’s something he wants to do. He really does go above and beyond to assist with them and to help them out.”
The project keeping Warren most busy these days is the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower. Set to open in November, the seven-story, state-of-the-art $180 million building will serve as an integral part of pediatric care at UMMC for years to come.
“The preparations have added quite a bit to my workload,” he said. “We’ve started to get the new IT equipment in, and all that equipment has to be configured to UMMC’s standards for security.
“Me and the rest of my team are pretty busy, but we’re slowly ramping up getting the equipment ready for deployment into the expansion.”
Once installed, should the equipment ever present an issue for Barrier and her team, she’ll know exactly who to call.
“On top of being a really knowledgeable person for computer problems, Josh is just interesting to talk to and has interesting stories,” Barrier said. “He’s just a really neat dude.”