Hospital switches phone systems

The telephone system at Whidbey General Hospital is hanging on by a thread, and the board of commissioners previously chose to delay replacement of the aging system because the budget is tight and the phones are still working.

But a change in the hospital’s long-standing agreement with Digital Telecommunications Inc., prompted the board to approve installation of a new system this month after the telecommunications company announced a price increase that will take effect next month.

Until recently, the hospital was assured of a 20 percent discount on a new system due to the high resale value of the old phone system.

But the resale value is rapidly declinging, prompting the company to alert Tom Tomasino, interim CEO, that Whidbey General must install the new system by the end of the month, or forfit the discount.

“The phone system needs to be replaced,” Tomasino said, adding that if the current system fails there is no back up, which means the hospital’s entire phone system would go down until it could be replaced.

Digital Telecommunications Inc. contracted with A3 Telecom of Seattle to design and replace the system, according to Trish Rose, hospital spokeswoman.

The switch from the old to new system should take about a week, Rose said.

“During that time, groups of phones will be moved over to the new system at different intervals so we are not anticipating service interruption,” she wrote in an email.

The new system will cost between $115,000 and $125,000 and require about $5,000 in maintenance each year.

In contrast, the hospital spent more than $14,700 last year for maintenance on the current system, which has served the hospital for 12 years.

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