After failing to reach Reed Medical Group by phone, one patient showed up at the office and one of the physicians drove her to the emergency room.
“She needed care and attention beyond what we could do, but had we had the ability to talk with her earlier, then it may have been dealt with in a different fashion,” said Reed Medical Group Administrator Cindy Carttar.
Reed Medical Group is one of the businesses in the Lawrence area that have had no or limited internet and phone service following the troubled conversion of WOW cable, phone and internet customers to Midco early Wednesday morning.
After two days of not being able to take patients’ calls, Carttar was still waiting for Midco to fix the phone and internet access at the end of the day Thursday. While staff can make outgoing calls and accept local faxes, Carttar said there is no off-site access to patient records, ability to accept credit card payments, receive lab results or upload claims.
“Much of what we do, we cannot do because of this failure to communicate,” Carttar said. “But the greatest concern is wanting to be responsible to our patients.”
Staff at On the Rocks liquor store also walked in Wednesday morning to find their phones and internet down. With help from its own IT staff, the store was eventually able to reset its I.P. address and get its internet up, but the phones were still down late Thursday afternoon, according to On the Rocks operations director Matt Easley.
Easley said wholesale beer and liquor sales to area restaurants and bars are a main component of the store’s business, and the phones being down meant they couldn’t take orders from their customers.
“We have cellphones, so we’re able to work around it, but it’s frustrating because we know that it’s costing us business,” Easley said.
Easley said he spent about two hours, either on hold with Midco’s customer service line or waiting for staff to respond to his internet messages, only to be told “we’re working on it.” Eventually, he said that he called the cellphone of the WOW sales representative that they had worked with previously and she helped route the store’s calls to a staff member’s cellphone.
Carttar, too, said she got a “canned” response when she was finally able to reach Midco staff after long periods on hold. She said even though she communicated to them that they were a medical office unable to take calls from patients, the issue is yet to be addressed.
“This is critically important,” Carttar said. “This has cost us in many, many ways.”
Other businesses were more fortunate. Heidi Raak, owner of The Raven Book Store, said though the store's internet was out, the phones were up. Raak said that because they have an older credit card system that operates off the phone line, their payments weren’t affected. Spotty internet, though, meant that staff members weren’t able to look information up or do other research. Other businesses, such as La Prima Tazza and Java Break, had to operate cash only for part of the morning Wednesday.
As part of its purchase of WOW, Midco took on more than 30,000 cable, telecom and internet customers in Douglas, Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties on Wednesday. Online, Midco’s Facebook page has been flooded with comments from business owners and residents who were experiencing outages. Midco said it does not have an estimate of how many customers were affected by the outages.
The conversion was supposed to take place from midnight to 6 a.m. Wednesday, and initially Midco spokeswoman Paige Pearson Meyer said they did not expect service interruptions.
Meyer said Thursday that part of the problem with the conversion is that Midco staff have found inconsistencies in customer files. That includes multiple accounts, equipment not on the account, and other similar issues that have made provisioning and troubleshooting services challenging, she said.
There isn’t yet a time frame for when all services will be restored. Meyer said some of the issues may require a technician to come to the business or residence. She said technicians were out Thursday and will continue to address issues Friday.
"We have a number of folks that are working through these issues with them," Meyer said. "Obviously we know that this is a huge inconvenience to these businesses, and so we’re really trying to act on this as quickly as possible and figure out what’s at the root of the problem."