Calling for help

November 22, 2017

Mandy Whitford has a very difficult job at hand as she tries to keep the Kialla clinic running without phones.

Mandy Whitford has a very difficult job at hand as she tries to keep the Kialla clinic running without phones.

Staff at Shepparton’s biggest veterinary clinics have had their communications thrown back into the dark ages, and it is putting animals’ lives at risk.

The internet connections and phone lines for SheppVets have been offline since Friday, and staff have no idea when the communication will be restored.

The communication blackout has continued over five days, and has caused chaos for staff at SheppVets’ Kialla and Shepparton clinics.

Office manager Wayne O’Connor said they first noticed something was wrong on Friday morning when their usual systems did not seem to be operating normally.

‘‘It wasn’t till we tried to make phone calls that we figured out what was going on,’’ Mr O’Connor said.

Both sites are connected to the NBN and telephone network via service provider Commander.

Mr O’Connor had received mixed messages about what the problem is, and when it could be fixed.

Until the system is fixed, Mr O’Connor is working at home to try and keep the clinics running for its dozens of staff and thousands of customers.

‘‘I am working from home because there is no point in trying to work from (the clinic) where there is no phone and no internet,’’ he said.

Customers have been left with no answer when they have called for emergency medical advice and treatment for their pets and livestock.

One elderly couple tried to call more than 20 times after one of their cows had a medical emergency from a prolapsed uterus, but for many hours they could not get through.

Currently, the clinic staff were using mobile phones instead of its six usual landlines, which resulted in many missed calls and frustrated customers.

‘‘Some of our staff are even using their own phones just to dial out,’’ he said.

As its two offices have their computer networks connected via a virtual private network, staff at the Kialla office have been unable to perform basic tasks such as checking medical history or sending medial information across sites.

Kialla clinic receptionist Mandy Whitford said it had been a difficult few days.

‘‘It has never been down for this long, and I have been with the clinic for 13 years,’’ she said.

Dr Esma Corbic said it was impossible to perform basic tasks while they were caught without communications.

‘‘I need to refer a case to Melbourne and I can’t email (medical) history and X-rays at work so I have to do it at home,’’ Dr Corbic said.

‘‘It is very stressful and frustrating.’’

Staff have been unable to get a straight answer about what the problem was.

Staff said they had been told that the problems were due to a planned CVC upgrade, which is the amount of connectivity a service provider has for its customers.

Service provider Commander has not responded to requests for comment from The News.

Until the problem is fixed, staff have new methods for contacting the clinic.

For customers of the Shepparton clinic, the landline of 5821 3188 will divert to a mobile phone. If this is not working, people should call 0428 144 402.

Kialla customers should note as its landline is down, contact with the clinic can be made on 0458 220 666.

If customers cannot get through on the first try, staff has urged them to call again as the line may be busy.

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