(Salt Lake City, UT) — Imagine the frustration and potential panic that can set in when a physician is paged by a hospital, attempts to return the phone call and is blocked by a telephone outage that shuts down all incoming calls to the medical facility. For what seemed an eternity to physicians and concerned families trying to call in – the underlying telephone network at St. Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City was down and out. Unaffected by weather on this sunny day in January of 2012, the reason for the telecom blackout remains a mystery. The only thing St. Mark’s administrators knew with certainty is that the catastrophic situation was caused by an inexplicable problem within local telecom provider, Quest (now CenturyLink).
“What we do know is that this could have been a PR nightmare for the hospital if word had gotten out to the public immediately, especially in this day of social media,” says John Jones, safety officer for St. Mark’s. “In this case, there was a doctor trying to respond immediately to a page. Fortunately, he was able to get through to a colleague’s cell phone and alert us to the problem.”
Thanks to Telecom Recovery, a solution was in hand within minutes. By contrast, it took Quest, the local telecom provider, five long hours to identify and repair their problem -- five hours that St. Mark’s Hospital simply didn’t have to get back up and running.
Telecom Recovery is an industry pioneer in the rapid recovery of communications after a telecommunications outage, with a unique focus on the restoration of incoming calls to existing phone numbers. Serving both private and public entities, Telecom Recovery custom designs telecommunications plans, while leveraging proprietary products, such as its VoiceShield™ service. Headquartered in Draper, Utah, Telecom Recovery also maintains a cloud based technology system.
For two years prior to the phone outage, St. Marks had been contracting with Telecom Recovery to use its VoiceShield™ Lite service. The hospital had recently added the satellite option within the previous 12 months. The service enables all incoming and outgoing calls to switch over to a satellite connection, instantly restoring normal functionality and turning every telephone in the hospital into a satellite phone. VoiceShield with satellite is always on and always working in the background waiting for the eventual telephone outage. St. Marks Hospital uses VoiceShield™ to meet safety requirements and uses federal grant money to pay for the service.
“We have used our ASPR Grant (emergency preparedness) funds for everything from body bags to Decon Equipment. Now, finally we are using our grant money for something that will actually help us Mitigate, Prepare , Respond and Recover from a disaster,” says Karlene Marshal, Ogden Regional Hospital, a sister hospital in the same healthcare system.
St. Mark’s is a 317-bed facility specializing in orthopedic and cardiac care, and reliable telephone communication is essential to its operation. The hospital, part of the HCA healthcare system, is 140 years old – the oldest in Utah. Deciding not to wait for their local telecom provider to repair the problem, St. Mark’s jumped into action and accessed critical information cards left behind by their Telecom Recovery representative with step-by-step directions for “switching” to the satellite-based VoiceShield service.
“It was seamless. We had to get calls into the hospital, so we transferred to the satellite by following the simple and immediate steps to engage the service,” says Jones.
Recovery Telecom President and Founder Jim Gledhill developed VoiceShield for cases like that of the one facing St. Marks on that January day.
“Telecom Recovery’s goal has always been to enable existing business phone systems to switch over to a satellite connection immediately after an outage, instantly restoring normal functionality and turning every connected desk phone into a satellite phone,” says Gledhill of the service that can assist a public or private organization of any size.
Telecom Recovery’s satellite services can restore incoming calls and administration phone numbers in minutes. The system relies on satellite facilities on the East coast and intelligence provided from within cloud architecture.
“I applaud St. Marks Hospital, because the status quo is to trust the phone companies and their underlying infrastructure,” said Andrew Weitzberg, business continuity consultant. “Fifteen years ago if the telephone company had a failure, everyone lost phone service. With today’s technology, if the phone company fails then roughly 35 percent of the population will lose phone service, leaving 65 percent with dial tone. Unfortunately for the general population almost all government entities, 911 Centers and hospitals rely on the phone company’s legacy infrastructure and technology and won’t even be able to answer a call during a major outage.”
Weitzberg continued, saying, “Today, it is unacceptable to not have dial tone or access to the public during an event. It is not expensive to back up your infrastructure, using VoIP over microwave and satellite as the primary options - it becomes very affordable. Especially when you compare the cost to lost revenue, bad press, potential HIPAA violations and increased liability that comes from not keeping current with technology.”
Prior to the January 2012 phone outage, St. Mark’s Hospital didn’t have an emergency preparedness backup plan in place for its phone system. Today, should the hospital be faced with any communications outage or a disaster, they are not only ready, but their experience serves as a telecom case study among multiple HCA system hospitals for its very favorable outcome.
Below is a two-minute video on Telecom Recovery VoiceShield for Hospitals:
About Telecom Recovery (www.TelecomRecovery.com)
Telecom Recovery is an industry pioneer in the rapid recovery of communications after a telecommunications outage, with a unique focus on the restoration of the incoming calls to existing phone numbers. With Telecom Recovery’s Voice Recovery Service™, complete control of incoming calls to all phone numbers can be restored in only minutes, allowing callers to be handled in almost any way imaginable, and enabling quick adaptation to changing circumstances on-the-fly, even while calls are in progress. In operation since 2005, Telecom Recovery is headquartered in Draper, UT.