Lightning strike shocks Whidbey General Hospital phone system

A bolt of lightning struck a transformer last Saturday, damaging the phone system at Whidbey General Hospital.

The lightning struck at approximately 8:15 a.m. Saturday hitting the transformer that was located near the area where the hospital houses its electronics for the computer and voice mail systems, hospital spokeswoman Trish Rose said in an email.

She said both the telephone and voice mail systems were affected by the lightning strike but engineers worked all day Saturday to repair the phones. The phone system was online by Saturday evening.

“We were fortunate that the system was adequately protected to prevent a catastrophic failure of our phones,” Rose said. “The voicemail is a different story.”

It turns out the voicemail system needs to be replaced. Rose anticipated it will cost the hospital approximately $13,000 for a new system. She hopes the new system will be installed by the end of next week. With all the repairs and staff time, the cost of the lightning strike will be around $25,000, Rose said.

The hospital’s internal voicemail system is still functional, but outside callers aren’t able to leave any messages. She encouraged people such as solicitors and vendors making non-patient related calls to the hospital should use email.

“We are relieved that the phones are still in operation,” Rose said in the email. “From a patient care aspect, the loss of external voicemail has minimal impact.”

She said she will post updates on the hospital’s website,


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