For the past 20 years, Eric Lykens has been on what he calls a “wonderful ride.” As an Information Systems department Senior Systems Analyst, Eric has watched the hospital’s computer capability grow from just a handful of computer servers to more than 100 physical and virtual servers and systems that have grown exponentially since he first arrived from his previous job at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
“It’s been such a wonderful ride the past 20 years to see it grow,” says Eric, who grew up in Santa Maria. “I just enjoy it.” As a young man, he moved from working on cars to taking a job as a personal computer assembler at a business called Computer King. “I knew nothing about it,” he recalls. “It wasn’t even a thing. There was no Best Buy. There was no Circuit City.”
He learned to enjoy building personal computers, and then connecting them between systems and putting them on networks.
“It was something new,” he said. “Not a lot of people were into it. As it evolved, I got to watch this whole industry grow … I fell into an industry I didn’t plan on being in. When you find something you enjoy and can make a living, that’s just a blessing. I’m so fortunate and lucky.”
After moving from the base to the old hospital for work, Eric took a job as an IT technician and eventually became the systems manager before his current role. Two years into the job, he thought he’d stay a few more years until he figured out what he really was going to do for a living. He has been with LVMC for more than 20 years.
On his office wall, he has whiteboards filled with job tasks. “The reason why I like coming to work is the whiteboard problems I have here,” he says, gesturing. “They’re things to tackle. I always have things I want to come and do. I love coming to work. I work to solve these problems.”
His job involves managing more than 140 computer interfaces and all of the hospital’s clinical systems, “making sure they all talk.” When he first started, there was not much involvement of Information Systems on the clinical side of the hospital’s operations. But when the new hospital opened in 2010, that changed.
“The shift is where the nurses and doctors didn’t want to deal with the technology, so now they have to rely on it,” Eric says. “There’s no way out of it.” Part of what makes his job so enjoyable, he said, is the team he works with. Many people in the hospital don’t fully understand what Information Systems does, he added. There’s so much more than making sure the hospital’s computers simply turn on every day and that printers are operational.
“My job is to make sure that all of our updates for all our clinical systems and servers talk to each other,” said Eric, who collects Volkswagens and heads a VW club. “I work with vendors directly that support all our clinical systems and upgrades.”
When the new hospital was built, Eric worked with others to ensure that every outlet, conduit, and network equipment was in the right place.
“All the problems we had in the old building, we wanted to fix here,” he says. “All the technologies people don’t realize we have in this building — the technology we have is state-of-the-art connectivity … All the tech that all big industry uses are used at our facility, in one shape or another. All of us in this department have had the ability to manage, build or make it work from what we’re doing here.”