The crackling lines that had plagued the centre’s old analog phone system have completely disappeared after MidCentral District Health Board's Information Systems team replaced it with a new VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) system.
MidCentral DHB Network Infrastructure and Telephony Engineer Diane Parsons said the old Nortel PBX (private branch exchange) was 29 years old, having been relocated from the old Levin Hospital to the Horowhenua Health Centre in 2006.
“It was an aged piece of equipment even in 2006, but was still in good working order at that time,” she said.
“However, the crackling noise on the lines had been getting progressively worse over several years, especially in the past six months - due to the old-age of the equipment, with deteriorating components and obsolete parts needed to fix it.”
Ms Parsons said the old telephone system had done well to last as long as it had, but a total replacement was necessary.
“We were able to make some changes to minimise the number of lines affected, but we wanted every line to be free of noise to allow patients and other customers, as well as our staff, to be able to easily hear the person talking on the other end of the line.”
Ms Parsons said the new VoIP telephone system had been very well-received.
“It feels like we’ve brought Horowhenua Health Centre’s telephone system into the 21st Century. It made a lot of people happy, instantly, with the benefits noticed as soon as people picked up the phone.”
With 165 lines at the Health Centre, migrating from the old PBX to the new VoIP system was a major project, but it was turned around in about three weeks following its go-ahead.
“We all wish it was as easy as simply plugging in new phones, but there’s a lot of technology that sits behind them. It’s quite amazing how much preparation, configurations and other work is required to get the phone system up and running. Having said that, the successful outcome was pretty satisfying.”
One of the staff based at the Horowhenua Health Centre is Clinical Support Coordinator and Administrator Margaret Strawbridge, who has been with the organisation for 22 years.
She said the old telephone system’s crackling lines made it difficult to communicate with callers, particularly some older people and people with impaired hearing, whereas communication would now be greatly enhanced.
“The new phone system is excellent and so much more efficient. We all really like it.”
Clinical Support Coordinator and Administrator Margaret Strawbridge at the Horowhenua Health Centre.