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Review: My First Day With Vonage, Excellent!
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Great Price, No Complaints



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Vonage Customer Review: One month with Vonage, and...
Vonage Customer Review: One month with Vonage, and...




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In Katrina Aftermath, Vonage Helps Hospital Communicate


Vonage In Print News

In Katrina Aftermath, Vonage Helps Hospital Communicate

September 1, 2005

By Paul Dykewicz

Internet phone service is playing an important role in helping health-care professionals in at least one Baton Rouge, La., hospital that has received a large stream of incoming patients due to massive flooding in the region caused by Hurricane Katrina.

With estimates that 80% of New Orleans is under water, hospitals there have been forced to evacuate and to send patients to Louisiana’s other major trauma and critical care hospitals, including Baton Rouge General Hospital, which turned to Interest-based Voip when traditionally long-distance phone services stopped working Monday. Dallas-based information management services provider PHNS responded by obtaining the needed equipment and service to obtain Internet wireless and long-distance services at the facility within just a couple of days.

The hospital, operating on generator power since Monday’s storm, has been forced to crowd patients into virtually every available unused space at the building. With traditional communications gone, PHNS requested and received donations of equipment and services from Vonage, Dell and RadioShack to develop a temporary solution to the hospital’s lack of traditional long-distance service.

Local telephone service was restored after an initial service disruption but vital long-distance service was knocked out and interfering with normal hospital activities, said Richard Roberts, a systems architect at PHNS. Hospital personnel depend on long-distance communications to call insurance providers, medial specialists and family members that are outside the city, he explained.

In the search for an alternative, Roberts called Vonage in hopes of gaining long-distance phone service via the company’s broadband Voip service. Vonage officials immediately agreed to help and donated the hardware, as well as the long distance services to let hospital employees dial out of Baton Rouge, he added.

The hospital also was in critical need of laptops with wireless connections that could be positioned in areas of the facility that unexpectedly needed to be used for patient care, Roberts said.

The communications crisis began when the hurricane hit Monday morning and wiped out virtually all the power in Baton Rouge and other hurricane-stricken areas. Baton Rouge is 80 miles inland from the coast and roughly 80 miles northwest of New Orleans.

The normal role of PHNS as an IT outsourcing company is to supply Internet, phone, data and computer support services.

"We ended up taking seven Vonage Voip boxes to facilitate communications," Roberts said. "We ran cables out of the Vonage hardware into our PBX phone switch. That allowed us to emulate analog phone lines on the phone switch. That then allowed us to route long distance calls through the phone switch across to the Vonage Voip system. It allowed the hospital staff to make outbound long distance calls at a time when service from the local long distance provider was unavailable."

The long distance carriers route their connections through New Orleans, which has it systems under water, Roberts said. Dell took part in the effort by donating 20 laptops to the hospital that had wireless Ethernet capabilities. That equipment then can be used as a phone through the Vonage capabilities, he added.

"We are in the process right now of installing the Vonage software onto the laptops to give healthcare providers access to communications in parts of the hospital that normally are not used for patient care," Roberts said.

Dell responded quickly to the request for help, said Roberts, who then began seeking Vonage hardware needed for the temporary long distance solution by contacting Baton Rouge Radio Shack stores until one could be found that was still open and had the required equipment, he explained.

Physicians and other hospital personnel now can receive records, reports and information on patients, Roberts said. The attending physicians who might be in another city also can be contacted, he added. The makeshift, Internet communications services will be "invaluable" in the emergency room and triage areas, Roberts said.

Vonage equipment donated to the effort is valued at $4,000, said Mitchell Slepian, its manager of media relations. The company’s donations program has included providing food for a charity in Trenton, N.J. Company employees also have participated in fundraisers in New York City and in parts of New Jersey to help groups that assist people with multiple sclerosis and AIDS he added.



 
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†AK and HI residents pay $29.95 shipping. ††Limited time offer. Valid for residents of the United States (&DC), 18 years or older, who open new accounts. Offer good while supplies last and only on new account activations. One kit per account/household. Offer cannot be combined with any other discounts, promotions or plans and is not applicable to past purchases. Good while supplies last. Allow up to 2 weeks for shipping. Other restrictions may apply.

1Unlimited calling and other services for all residential plans are based on normal residential, personal, non-commercial use. A combination of factors is used to determine abnormal use, including but not limited to: the number of unique numbers called, calls forwarded, minutes used and other factors. Subject to our Reasonable Use Policy and Terms of Service.

2Shipping and activation fees waived with 1-year agreement. An Early Termination Fee (with periodic pro-rated reductions) applies if service is terminated before the end of the first 12 months. Additional restrictions may apply. See Terms of Service for details.

HIGH SPEED INTERNET REQUIRED. †VALID FOR NEW LINES ONLY. RATES EXCLUDE INTERNET SERVICE, SURCHARGES, FEES AND TAXES. DEVICE MAY BE REFURBISHED. If you subscribe to plans with monthly minutes allotments, all call minutes placed from both from your home and registered ExtensionsTM phones will count toward your monthly minutes allotment. ExtensionsTM calls made from mobiles use airtime and may incur surcharges, depending on your mobile plan. Alarms, TTY and other systems may not be compatible. Vonage 911 service operates differently than traditional 911. See www.vonage.com/911 for details.

** Certain call types excluded.

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