Eastern Health staff tie-up phone lines for radio contest

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A contest requiring people to continually call in to a radio station in St. John’s tied-up phone lines at Eastern Health facilities Thursday morning and forced the health authority to issue a message to staff.

In an e-mail to The Telegram, a spokeswoman for Eastern Health said the issue impacted facilities in St. John’s for approximately an hour and a half. She said intermittent landline phone service was not a problem unique to Eastern Health and was in fact experienced throughout the city.

Eastern Health’s service provider advised the issue did originate from too many people trying to use the phone simultaneously. Once the health authority was aware of the problem, an electronic message was issued to staff asking them to stop using the phones to enter the radio contest.

She said ambulance services dealt with intermittent landline service, but added there was no known impact on patient care or employees. Radio communication between ambulances, emergency departments, and the 911 service was not affected.

The spokeswoman said the matter is being treated “very seriously” in light of the fact blocked phone lines can potentially endanger a person’s life.

According to Eastern Health, policies and protocols are in place relating to the use of communication devices at work for personal use.

One source told The Telegram the same problem occurred last week, but the spokeswoman said she was not aware of a similar incident occurring.

Organizations: The Telegram

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Recent comments

  • yo mama
    October 14, 2012 - 13:07

    Those people are suppose to be educated.

  • AT Chris
    October 12, 2012 - 13:47

    I have telus, never had an issue

  • Scott Free
    October 12, 2012 - 09:35

    Doesn't surprise me one bit; EH is totally disfuntional, without leadership and health care workers are among the first to send/exchange jokes by email; even ahead of provincial civil servants. While on the topic of wasted work time and misuse of government computers, phones, etc., how about MHA David Brazil posting his government email address as a league contac for the Avalon East Senior Hockey League! Nice to see that he has so little to do as an elected member that he can, at the very least, screen league emails in his volunteer hobby at taxpayers' expense & time! wow! Just how arrogant is this current Tory administration getting? While I admire Mr. Brazil's contributions and volunteerism to hockey, I'm appalled that he posts his government email address for correspondence. Makes one wonder just how much of his work time is expended on a hobby and at who's cost?

  • moe joe
    October 12, 2012 - 08:28

    Talk about a lynch mob! Out of the thousands of workers at eastern health a few crossed the line and used company time for personal use. should they be spoken too. yes. for this w2as not a family emerency. but to lump all Health care workers into the one ball is not called for. I have a family member who is a inpatient. and I can tell you the work that is expected from these Nurses. LPN's and RN's is out wicked! And as for chatting as they work. They are human beings, who have familys and lives just like us. Think for a minute. If you worked 12 hr shifts, also ordered to work double shifts would you be able todo so at a runnung pace? No ! But when we go to health care sites we expect them all to jump to attention. I wonder how many of the above people jump when a custumer comes into there department. before we judge others maybe we should look at our selves first.As for the mangers well there are more of them than you can shake a stick at. I guess they'll hire a new one khnow to study the phone use by staff. LOL

  • Chris
    October 12, 2012 - 08:27

    Eastern Health shares the same service provider (Bell Aliant) with another 250,000 + people. eastern health staff did not put thier own system down. the entire population did. MUN, City of St. John's, College of the North Atlantic....Hickmans all had the same problem. Even Aliant! anyone try to dial out on a telus cellphone? same thing.

  • Dan
    October 12, 2012 - 08:24

    I agree with Terry, this was not Eastern Health employees blocking the lines it was the whole city that was affected, the problem lies with Aliant and the capacity (or lack thereof). SHAME on The Telegram for printing such a headline and incriminating hard working people at Eastern Health and SHAME on Eastern Health management for suggesting that their employees were to blame - many of which I am sure were TOO busy to be calling anyway! BTW I DO NOT work at or have anything to do with Eastern Health.

  • Cindy
    October 12, 2012 - 08:23

    I work at Eastern Health but I have ZERO time to be making calls to radio stations. I am just too busy! I was ticked off not being able to use my phone to do parts of my job. Several coworkers were also ticked off and wondering who these workers are who have the time to be dialing a radio station while they were supposed to be working. Don't think we are all like that! Some of us actually go to work and WORK!

  • Jane
    October 12, 2012 - 08:13

    I was led to believe that they were overworked!!!! What a JOKE!

  • Terry
    October 12, 2012 - 07:41

    It was a bad thing yes I agree... but get real people EVERYONE who listens to that station was dialling in... I don't care where you worked... it was a free 10k!!! Marie, you must not have known about the free 10k... cause I'm sure you would have been dialling in.... Radio station took 2 1/2 hours to get to 100 callers... I blame them. Eastern Health has its issues but I applaud those that work there!!! To everyone at Eastern Health Thank you for taking care of the sickest of sick. Thanks for taking care of the children that need you. Thanks for doing the job so many would not!!! Thank you!!!!

  • Prime Example
    October 12, 2012 - 07:36

    Prime example of staff being bored..... and nothing to do..... Managers are NOT being responsible enough in checking into the time that is wasted with their staff... staff having two hour lunch breaks, never at their desks when they should be and no MANAGERS AROUND to check it out.... Call when you like at some of their phone lines and you will never get a worker only VOICE MAIL..... I tried for hours on Thursday to reach a secretary with Eastern Health and her line kept going thru voice mail she never returned my call first nor last..... GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER EASTERN HEALTH.

  • Marie
    October 12, 2012 - 04:44

    Again another example that they don't have enough to do.

  • NowISee
    October 11, 2012 - 23:33

    Yeah well between chatting on the phones and telling jokes all day, I dont know how these people have time to do their work. The parking woes must be real stressful over there. Thats what I should of done today was listen to the radio and hit re-dial instead of working. Bet my boss would of felt my pain. While im at it, fix this validation thing you have going on here at the telegram for posting comments. Its an absolute joke!

  • Bobby
    October 11, 2012 - 23:28

    Good thing these staff have phone to allow them to participate in contests. I mean, it's not like they're doing anything important. Just maintaining health services for patients. If I was doing this behavior at my workplace, I'd be fired. Note these facts: *the LARGE number of people involved affected service for the ENTIRE city *personal use of equipment *second occurrence No wonder there are so many privacy breaches, staff DO NOT follow guidelines. Have I mentioned these employees work in the capital of Newfoundland's health facilities. Busy phoning radio contests.

  • Michelle
    October 11, 2012 - 21:12

    You can't be serious! The phone lines were blocked at Eastern Health because so many staff were trying to enter a radio contest? Wow- I feel like I'm in good hands now! Please fix this as soon as possible- this is unbelievable!

  • Marie
    October 11, 2012 - 21:07

    Any example of how they don't have enough work to do.

    October 11, 2012 - 18:55

    Not one bit surprising. Have stood at counters in numerous health facilities waiting for service while listening to staff carry on their personal calls - not in the least bit hurry to hang-up. Not only were staff not attending to patients and other responsibilities for an hour and a half during the radio phone-in contest, but clearly they had been busy listening to the radio station long before that. Remember that it was the nurses union that landed a 32% wage increase (when inflation was averaging one-percent) from Danny Williams in the dying days of his stint as premier. Debbie Forward had done a great job convincing the public that their members were so overworked that their patients were in danger. Don't get me wrong - there are many fine nurses who earn their 60-75 thousand per year and do their best for patients. There are many others unfortunately who do not - and Eastern Health seems incapable of distinguishing between the two. No wonder health care costs are out of control.

    • Responding to DOA
      October 12, 2012 - 08:07

      Please DOA.....REALLY???? there are more people working at Eastern Health than Nurses. There are maintenance, housekeeping, secretaries, medical records, medical staff, plumbers, electricians, security, porters, lab staff, radiology...must I go on. Everytime something happens at Eastern Health people assume it is a nurse. My mother is a patient at Eastern Health, I have seen many, many great staff from all these areas. I have seen many nurses work all day without a proper coffee/meal or bathroom break...you try doing that for 12 hours. Just yesterday, a lady sharing my Mom's room asked for peanut butter, the nurse told her that because of budget restraints they no longer had peanut butter, but if that lady (the patient) didn't mind, the nurse could give her what she had in a container in her lunch bag...that's pretty remarkable, a nurse sharing her lunch with a patient who was a stranger to her. Everyone chill out

  • Cant believe this
    October 11, 2012 - 18:12

    The lack of professionalism and common sense on the part of Eastern Health staff seems to know no bounds. It scares me to think of what was happening with the patients while the staff were having their fun.

  • Harvey
    October 11, 2012 - 17:50

    Those poor stressed out health workers !!!

    • bay nurse
      October 12, 2012 - 09:15

      Have you ever gotten jokes and emails and the messages start at a health unit or confederation building? It gives the impression the sender isn't working but it could be lunchtime. I think it gives a pretty bad impression where our tax money goes. These people should know how far these messages go and therefore use their home computers for this purpose.

    • briget
      October 12, 2012 - 09:21

      Really: What about the Federal Gov't employees, there phone lines were blocked to. As a matter of fact it was a Federal Employee who won the contest