Losing your long distance may be a hassle, but it can be a life and death situation for a hospital.
"My first thought yesterday was, 'What about air transport? If somebody is trying to call us about emergency transport, and they're trying to call that 1-800 dispatch number and they're getting a busy signal. They can't get a busy signal,'" Randy Bury, Regional Chief Operating Officer for Sanford Health, said.
Sanford officials have re-routed several 1-800 numbers, allowing them to get calls from, and make calls to, long distance patients. Flash flooding in Northfield, Minnesota, washed out a fiber-optic cable CenturyLink uses. Many customers have not been able to make long distance calls since Saturday.
"We really found out the value of an integrated system. Right now we're using phone bandwidth and I.T. resources from Fargo, Bemidji and Bismarck to re-route our calls," Bury said.
Because of the re-routing, if you get a call from Sanford here in South Dakota, your caller ID may show a number from North Dakota or Northwest Minnesota.
"We've even gotten questions about that; people checking the legitimacy of the phone calls," Bury said.
CenturyLink spokesperson Carrie Amann said workers are on-site trying to fix the fiber optic cable. They're making a lot of progress and in the final stages of getting it up and running. Some customers even have service again.
"We know that it's widespread throughout South Dakota. Unfortunately, we do not have an accurate number of customers impacted," Amann said.
Amann says because CenturyLink only uses the fiber-optic cable, which is owned by a different company, customers in KELOLAND will have to wait until that company fixes the problem. Bury said Sanford will ease into switching back.
"We've got a system in place now, that's, for the most part, working well. We're not going to want to give that up until we're real comfortable with the situation," Bury said.
This will not affect local calls to Sanford. If you use long distance, call your usual Sanford Health phone number. If that does not work, call 1-888-411-0880 and your call will be re-routed.
You may not be able to reach them if your long distance provider is CenturyLink. CenturyLink thanks you for your patience.