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Meet Rosie, Hal, R2-D2 and WALL-E -- robots roaming the halls of this local hospital

Published: Monday, February 05, 2018 @ 6:00 AM

Unmanned robots are making deliveries at Kettering Medical Center. Video by Amelia Robinson.

You aren’t seeing things. That cart is moving itself ... sort of. 

RosieHalR2-D2 and WALL-E, four TUG autonomous mobile delivery robots from Pittsburgh-based Aethon, have been roaming around Kettering Medical Center for more than three weeks now. 

David Starkey, Kettering Health Network’s director of materials management and biomedical engineering, said the robots serve as “assistive staff” to the 22 members of his materials team at the hospital. 

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The robots are named for pop culture robots: Rosie from “The Jetsons,” R2-D2 from the “Star Wars” series, Hal from “2001: A Space Odyssey” and Wall-E from the film the Disney film “WALL-E.” 

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The robots are decorated with oversized eyelashes, googly eyes and lush eyebrows that are far more than on fleek. 

“The (materials and nutrition) staff named them, and they had kind of a fun time doing that,” Starkey said. “The staff is enjoying this.” 

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The TUG R2D2 waits for an elevator. The Robots were introduced to Kettering Hospital in January 2018.(Photo: Amelia robinson)

Last week alone, the robots made 650 deliveries and traveled more than 110 miles using a sensor mapping system that is unseen by human eyes. 

“That’s a lot of tennis shoe time. What we are doing is trying to make (staff members’) jobs better,” Starkey told us. “We can have them doing other things rather than making so many trips through the hospital.” 

Each robot costs about $1,400 a month, can plug itself in for recharging and can work up to 20 hours a day. 

The cost to the hospital is about $2 or $3 each an hour. 

Thus far, the TUGs are used to deliver supplies ranging from Band-Aids to bedding to the main hospital’s five floors and the five-story Kettering Cancer Center. 

Those facilities are linked by a sky bridge which the robots navigate. They can also call elevators to use on their delivery rounds and sense objects in their path. 

David Starkey, Kettering Health Networks's director of materials management and biomedical engineering, stands with a TUG nicknamed R2D2. The robots were introduced to Kettering Hospital in January.(Photo: Amelia Robinson)

“They can do deliveries in a couple of different ways,” Starkey said. “(We can deliver carts) with bins of supplies for actually stocking the nursing units, or we can send up supplies with individual bins that are labeled with a unit name. It will actually deliver it right to their nurse’s station.” 

The robots will be even busier soon. 

In a matter of weeks, the hospital plans to start using the robots to deliver food to floors, said Cheryl Shimmin, the network director of nutrition services for Kettering Health Network. 

Floor ambassadors will be used to deliver food to patient rooms. Shimmin said that the hope is to better serve patients and to reduce staff injuries. 

“The TUGs make it easier on the employees,” she said. 

Kettering is the first hospital in the region to have us TUGs, but Starkey said they can be found in about 400 medical facilities throughout the country delivering supplies, food and equipment.

Kettering, which has eight hospitals plus the cancer center, plans to introduce TUGs next in Soin Medical Center in Beavercreek. 

Starkey learned about the TUG on the Internet while plans were underway for the cancer center, which opened in 2016. 

Some hospital leaders thought Starkey and Shimmin were joking when they introduced the idea of using robots to make delivers. They soon realized how robots can be useful, Starkey said. 

The robots are monitored by computer in the materials department, and if they get stuck in a jam, can be moved remotely by Aethon. 

David Starkey, Kettering Health Network's director of materials management and biomedical engineering, monitors TUGs via computer. The robots were introduced to Kettering Hospital in January.(Photo: Amelia Robinson)

The first week they were introduced, they carried chocolate for nurses along with the supplies delivers. Starkey said nurses might also find a surprise for Valentine’s Day, as well. 

So far, he said the robots have been big hits with hospital visitors. Their whimsical names have helped give them personality. 

“Everybody wanted to take a picture with them,” Starkey said. “They really like Rosie because she has the eyelashes.”

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Kettering Health Network's David Starkey and Cheryl Shimmin worked to introduce TUGs to the hospital chain. The robots were introduced to Kettering Hospital in January.(Photo: Amelia Robinson)

TUGs return to their charging stations when they are not making deliveries. The robots were introduced to Kettering Hospital in January.(Photo: Amelia Robinson)

The TUG nicknamed "WALL-E" out on a delivery. The Robots were introduced to Kettering Hospital in January 2018.(Photo: Amelia robinson)

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Kettering approves $6.9 million police station project

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 12:08 PM

            The City of Kettering plans to expand and renovate its police department facilities. The existing police facility at the Kettering Government Center will be renovated, and an additional floor will be added for office space for the chief, captains, and administrative staff. Photo: CONTRIBUTED
The City of Kettering plans to expand and renovate its police department facilities. The existing police facility at the Kettering Government Center will be renovated, and an additional floor will be added for office space for the chief, captains, and administrative staff. Photo: CONTRIBUTED(Contributed)

City leaders voted to approve initial funding for a multi-million dollar plan to expand and renovate the Kettering Police Department.

Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve $525,000 in initial funding to start a $6.9 million renovation to the existing police facility at the Kettering Government Center.

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City Manager Mark Schwieterman said the project will add an additional floor for office space for the chief, captains and administrative staff.

After the meeting, he said passage of the initial funding request will allow the city to enter into a design services contract in 2018 and by mid-2019 be ready to put the renovation project out to bid.

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“We anticipate because it is a renovation and they will have to work around our existing operations that it will take about 18 months to complete construction,” Schwieterman said. “So, I would say at this point that the earliest we would see a completed product would be in 2021.”

Schwieterman feels an update to the police facility is necessary.

“Certainly, we need some renovations to our police department. It has been a very long time since we’ve had an overhaul in that facility,” Schwieterman said. “New HVAC and mechanical equipment is necessary, and we also need to change the space utilization because our police station doesn’t operate in the same manner that it operated 30 years ago.”

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Modernization with an eye towards the future is something he feels will make the new design a benefit to the community.

“I think it will be a benefit to the public in that we will bringing some access to the ground level of this plaza. But also, certainly a benefit to our operations as we will build a new station that is built around the way we police today,” Schwieterman said.

The latest effort to improve public safety facilities comes on the heels of a multi-million dollar overhaul of the fire department. The city went from seven fire stations to four, with the Dorothy Lane station to be finished this year.

“In total, the fire department project is roughly $30 million for those new stations and the equipment,” Schwieterman said.

No resident spoke against the project Tuesday, and Mayor Don Patterson said that the community expects city leaders to make smart investments to improve facilities.

“One of the reasons that people stay here in Kettering and don’t want to leave is because we make investments to improve what we have here in the community,” he said.

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Hamilton Schools to undergo security changes this summer

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 10:11 AM

Kings Schools are 1 of a few area districts using an anti-shooter device to keep students safer in classrooms.

It will be one of the busiest summer breaks in years for Hamilton City Schools as new security measures and procedures are installed for next school year, said district officials during Tuesday’s school board meeting.

Hamilton Schools Superintendent Larry Knapp presented an update on a variety of school security efforts and programs all designed to enhance the safety of students and staff in the 10,000-student city school system.

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School parents will receive information brochures on school emergency procedures, teachers will receive training in treating attack wounds, fire drills will be changed, and school officials are further coordinating with first responder police and fire departments.

And there will be more in-school counseling available for Hamilton students next school year.

But the most important changes are still to come, said Knapp.

These may include more armed officers in schools, bullet-proof film on school windows and classroom door barricades similar to those already in use in the Talawanda and Kings school districts.

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“All 13 buildings will undergo safety assessments with trained personnel,” he said in reference to school building evaluations done by local police and fire officials along with federal and Ohio Homeland Security personnel.

These security experts “know a lot more about what we can do as a school district to make our buildings safer,” said Knapp.

The new security measures will augment the current procedures already in place, many of which are staffed by armed Hamilton Police officers who patrol in the city schools.

“The Hamilton City School district will continue to share safety and security updates with our community as we improve our protocols and programs,” said Hamilton Schools Superintendent Larry Knapp.

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“We appreciate the partnership that we have developed with the Hamilton City Police Department and look forward to working with them to keep our students, and staff safe each and every day we are in session,” said Knapp.

“You are going to see more coming out of this and more personnel devoted towards this,” he said.

The 2017-2018 school year ended for Hamilton students last week.

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‘Goodbye sale’ set for iconic roller rink that opened more than 60 years ago

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 6:00 AM

Rezoning means what's left of Skyborn Drive-In, Skateland will disappear

The last artifacts inside an iconic roller rink opened in 1956 will be sold off during a massive garage sale-style goodbye event.  

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Thousands and thousands of people took spins around Skyborn Skateland in Fairborn before it closed for good in 2015. 

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The rink’s building and land have been sold to nearby Barrett Paving Materials, but its contents will be sold off from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 27 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, May 28. 

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The content of Skyborn Skateland is being sold(Skyborn Skateland)

“Everything that is inside of the building is going to be for the sale: skates, the lockers, the table, the sound system,” said Joyce Brinkley, an assistant to Skateland’s owner David Ripp. 

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>> RELATED: Rezoning means what’s left of Skyborn Drive-In, Skateland will disappear

Sections of the rink’s floor, equipment in its snack area and the skate ramp are also among items up for grab. 


— All items MUST be paid for in CASH during the Sale Hours 

— Please do not request an earlier or later viewing or pick-up time. These times are non-negotiable. 

— Items not picked-up or paid for, during sale hours will be resold within 24 hours after the sale closing time. 

Many items for sale not listed anywhere. 

Please show up to see what is available. 

All Rental Skates per pair $10, most are ok, but a bit musty from sitting.

Police Beacons - 3, as is (might work) one shell, $10 each

Popcorn Machine $100 

Soft Pretzels Storage and display unit $25

Gehl's Nacho and cheese dispenser $20 

San Jamar cup dispenser $10 

Picnic table $50 

First come 1st served on all sales listed her. You must take item with you by end of the day you buy it. 

Small misc item will be priced the day of the sale.

Almost everything can go. 

The content of Skyborn Skateland is being sold(Skyborn Skateland)

The content of Skyborn Skateland is being sold(Skyborn Skateland)

The content of Skyborn Skateland is being sold(Skyborn Skateland)

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Here’s how Luke Kennard is thanking his hometown for their support

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 12:25 PM

Luke Kennard is partnering with Premier Health and Win The Next One to present the Luke Kennard Overnight Basketball Camp.

Luke Kennard is returning to the area this summer to pay back those who supported him throughout his illustrious basketball career at Franklin High School.

After a press conference at Atrium Medical Center where it was announced that Premier Health is partnering with Kennard and Win The Next One to present the Luke Kennard Overnight Basketball Camp, Kennard talked about how the Franklin community — and the entire region — followed him.

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So when Kennard, who now plays for the Detroit Pistons, decided to attach his name to a youth basketball camp, it was important for the event to be in the Franklin area, he said.

“Growing up here, playing sports here, they were so good to me,” Kennard said. “They allowed me to be who I am today. People around here are so supportive of me. I have the most supportive community, hometown in the entire NBA. Not only are the campers going to learn a lot of basketball skills and lessons from the coaches and me personally, they are going to learn life lessons I’ve experienced as a basketball player as well.”

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The camp will be held July 20-22 at Camp Chautauqua in Miamisburg, and is open to boys and girls entering grades four through seven in the 2018-2019 school year.

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With the support of Premier Health and Kennard, the camp can provide up to 200 participants two nights and three days worth of a professional basketball camp experience, said Brian Bales, director of the camp’s hosting organization, WTNO.

“Southwest Ohio has a special place in Luke’s heart and he is looking forward to helping run his first camp back home,” said Bales, who is also the athletic director at Franklin Schools and the high school boys basketball coach.

Throughout the camp, Luke Kennard and WTNO coaches will offer hands-on instruction, including lectures, fundamental basketball skills, contests, and games, Bales said. Campers will be placed in small groups by age to ensure each child gets maximum instruction, he said. The camp will be staffed by high school basketball coaches and Premier Health athletic trainers.

Michael Uhl, president of Atrium, said the hospital was excited to partner with “a high-caliber athlete” such as Kennard.

MORE: What to know about Luke Kennard

While a student athlete at Franklin High School, Kennard was named the Ohio Gatorade Basketball Player of the Year as a junior and senior and was named the Parade National Player of the Year his senior season.

After two seasons at Duke University, where his playing time and production increased every game, Kennard declared for the NBA Draft and was selected by the Detroit Pistons with the 12th overall pick. As a rookie, he played in 73 games with nine starts. He averaged 7.6 points, 1.7 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game.

Some questioned whether Kennard should have stayed at Duke for at least one more season before turning pro after his sophomore year. But the 6-foot-5, 200-pounder said he has no regrets about leaving early.

“I thought it was the right decision for me at the time,” he said. “I think I had a great rookie season. There were some ups and downs. There is a lot that I have learned and I think next year will be even better.”

For more information about the camp, click here.

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