The day started out very cold and windy, but it turned reasonably nice Sunday afternoon and will be much warmer on Monday. Thank goodness – many attendees (me being one) didn’t bring the heavy coats that were needed, both outside and in the exhibit hall today (I slipped by a security guard to roam around).
I’m beginning to be annoyed by the hotel that HIMSS foisted on me after they cancelled my reservation for the hotel I actually wanted. I nearly froze last night, and today I made sure the thermostat was set to heat and 70 degrees when I left for the convention center. Right now, it’s 56 degrees in the room and the air that’s blowing is cold. The hotel has no restaurant and needs maintenance – I’ve never until now seen a toilet whose bowl is actually peeling apart below the water line, and there’s rust on almost everything in the bathroom. For about the same money, I could have had a very nice hotel within a couple of blocks of the convention center with an actual restaurant, bar, and lobby. I didn’t even get the swag bag that Inga mentioned in her post. I feel like a stepchild.
We’re on a boil water advisory in New Orleans supposedly until at least Monday morning, so the nice hotels dropped off bottles of water in each room, while mine left a note on the bed to traipse down to the front desk if I needed bottled water. Given that the note says you’re not supposed to even brush your teeth with water from the tap, exactly who isn’t going to need a bottle? Since that’s the case, why make every guest visit the front desk?
I guess you can’t blame HIMSS for the boil water advisory, but the same problem occurred here a few months ago due to the city’s crumbling infrastructure, which includes 100-year-old water processing plants and old pipes. As much as I like the restaurants and the local character, there’s no doubt in my mind that New Orleans is not capable of handling a major convention in a professional manner. The airport is small and outdated, there aren’t enough cabs to get people the long way to downtown, and I’m hearing that hotels are oversold and people are being assigned rooms out in the sticks. It feels like a backward country where nobody really cares about the small details. The only positive I can muster is that the convention center is OK and the restaurants are good.
I’ll assume this was the work of a prankster and not an inattentive convention center worker. Maybe the one sitting behind me near the food court, who was reminding everyone within earshot about the awful conditions and deaths that occurred inside the very same convention center during Katrina.
The HIMSS printed materials seem less well organized this year. I’ve overheard people who, like me, can’t find sessions they know are taking place. There is no mobile app – it’s all printed.
I haven’t heard much in the way of news and rumors so far. Most of what I’ve seen posted elsewhere appeared here last week. Monday should be the big day of announcements, including the much-awaited Cerner-McKesson interoperability one at 11 a.m. Central time. I’m not including the webcast link or physical location since the invitation was only for the press.
Inga, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, and I had what Inga called our HIStalk board meeting this afternoon (meaning we had a drink at a bar). We headed over to the opening reception, which was OK as opening receptions go (a huge bare room, decent food, and some local options like Abita amber beer and jambalaya). The band was OK. We saw some folks we know either individually or collectively before I headed off to dinner with a friend at Red Fish Grill, which was as good as when I ate there at the previous New Orleans conference.
I feel like Jim Cantore on the Weather Channel, describing how conditions are changing as a storm moves close, the storm in this case being the rumored 35,000 people who are attending the conference. Monday morning will be the usual madhouse, with the added complication of being unable to use tap water. We’ll have more detailed reports and a quick HIStalkapalooza recap if I have the energy to stay up late to write it. We can’t see or know it all, so your contributions are welcome.