As a surprise, the chairs in Mesa Community College offices have to pass a rigorous set of tests before employees can bring in a doctor’s note for expensive prescription chairs.
Shirley Henderson, the occupational health and safety administrator, has been running dozens of chairs through her own personal gauntlet for the last few weeks in order to curb careless spending.
“The district doesn’t have a standard,” Henderson explained, “which leads to possible overspending on certain high-dollar chairs that people with a physical disability might need.”
The focus of her inquisition isn’t on eliminating special request chairs but on establishing an efficient standard by which to order future ones.
“People have pains (in their) back, neck, hip; all sorts. And they need chairs that can mitigate those pains,” she said.
The problem Henderson stated is that “people bring in a (doctor’s) note for a $3,000 chair when there might be a superior chair for $300 or $400.”
Throwing aesthetics out the window, because Henderson knows what she’s looking for.
Upon first inspection, her office, which is located in the Southern and Dobson campus administrative building, resembles a kind of chair graveyard.
A hastily-made sign is taped to her TV warning visitors, “CAUTION EXPLODING CHAIRS!”
Henderson’s rigorous quest to find the magical chair includes multiple “field test,” a verbose term for sitting to try them out. “We are looking for the six basic traits of highly ergonomically efficient chairs,” Henderson gave a basic explanation of her criteria.
According to Henderson, there are six basic traits for a good office chair, and the list she gave included more than just six, “Seat height adjustment, forward-back which is seat depth, adjustment, swivel, arm-rest height, cushion, back rest height and back rest angle, recline level, seat and back arch.”
One of Henderson’s main complaints about the current system simply comes down to a Fraud Waste and Abuse issue, which is a generic term for when a situation could be tweaked in order to stop a small leak in tax-payer spending.
“I’m trying to set a standard for the district so that future requests can be handled immediately without any run around and excessive spending,” she said.
Basically, Henderson’s goals translate into a noble attempt to help those in need while also serving the people that fund the machine who are tax-payers and students.
Students with ADA concerns can still follow their own route to finding comfort in the classroom, as the standard doctor patient process hasn’t changed for students.
Any MCC employee who is interested in a firsthand look at the chair selection process or in participating by giving feedback to Henderson, please feel free to stop by the cashiers office to test out the front runners.
Update: As of Monday, Aug. 29, 2011, the selection process has ended.