The current pandemic and future needs of technology create a conundrum for many non-profits. Without a lot of extra money to spend, agencies like St. Mary’s often rely on grants and donations to meet technology needs.

For instance, 38 chromebooks made distance learning a reality for our school and a giant touchscreen will mean new kinds of learning will happen in the future for our young residents. These investments were made possible by the generous support of the Nordson Corporation Foundation and Ocean State Charities Trust for the chromebooks and The Savage and Luther Family Fund for our newly renovated library of which the touchscreen is part.

The person in charge of all this technology is Eric McDuffee, who holds a new position of Director of Information Technology. Eric is charged with modernizing the agency’s technology for both the current pandemic and the future. When he first came on board in 2019, Eric created an assessment of the agency’s technology.

“We instituted an asset management system which makes it easy to get a snapshot of the age of equipment and see where there might be some gaps so we can better align the technology with our mission,” Eric said.

When Covid-19 hit, Eric found himself rolling out policies and technology faster than planned in order to meet the new needs. Work at home and bring your own device policies needed to be written and the agency had to quadruple the number of VPN licenses so more people could work from home. A new system to allow IT staff to remotely control people’s computers to fix issues had to be rolled out and Eric instituted other changes such as the development of a new IT helpdesk system which better tracks and monitors IT problems.

Outpatient therapy, which was conducted online through Google Meet, had to be set up and issues resolved. This also brought many new policies that had to be written for areas such as client privacy.

Meanwhile, other improvements, such as moving to a new Google email system, had to take longer as St. Mary’s three-person technology staff worked around the clock to get everyone set up and solve all issues so that client services would be minimally interrupted by the pandemic.