Health Network’s Phone Guru Keeps JPS Connected

July 24th, 2019

Hidden away on its Fort Worth main campus lies the nerve center of telephonic communication at JPS Health Network.

There, an incredible maze of thousands of wires lines the walls and the ceiling, a blue and red twist of spaghetti. It’s Joe Richardson’s job to make sure all those lines are correctly connected. His formal title is telecommunications technician. But to the people who summon him for help whenever they need assistance in making a connection, he’s more commonly known as Joe the Phone Guy.

Joe Richardson

Joe Richardson

“Usually I don’t spend too much time in here,” Richardson said from his office where he tries to offset the industrial look of the wires, shelves loaded with phones new and old and an array of blinking computer equipment with a few personal trinkets. His collection of about 40 rubber duckies lines a shelf while photos of dogs, particularly German Shepherds like those he used to train, are hung on a wall and on his bulletin board. “I’m usually out and about someplace trying to solve the problem whenever people have issues with their phone. No two days are ever alike, that’s for sure.”

Richardson arrived at JPS 15 years ago after spending the first part of his career working for former long distance telephone giant MCI in Dallas. He said he enjoys working in the hospital industry over retail communications because it’s more rewarding to toil for the purpose of keeping doctors, nurses and techs connected so they can do their important work for patients.

JPS Health Network

JPS Health Network

Through the years, Richardson said, JPS has upgraded its phone system from an arrangement where connections were made by three operators sitting shoulder to shoulder in a tiny room to a PBX system linked by computer data cables instead of an individual traditional phone line connected seperately to each receiver. He’s currently in the process of coordinating the switchover to a new digital system that will replace the miles of wires in his workspace with a much smaller stack of servers called universal gateways. There will be 14 of them, each a little bit larger than a home DVD player.

Richardson’s supervisor, IT Service Manager Geoffrey Wright, said Joe always has the answers whenever he’s needed to solve a problem. Wright said Richardson’s encyclopedic knowledge of the massive infrastructure of the JPS telephone system is amazing.

“Joe has always been a super hard worker and thinks of his customers above all else. He takes personal pride in his work and is always ready to take on any task,” Wright sad. “He has a funny sense of humor and always wants to make people smile. He is a great asset for JPS.”

 “People ask me when I am going to retire,” Richardson said. “Why would I retire? I love what I do and working with the people at JPS. I don’t ever plan to retire.”


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