Katrina Causes Medical Problems

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A long distance service switch, which is underwater in New Orleans, is causing problems for area hospitals. The problem: no Internet access or long distance service.

Hurricane Katrina made landfall hundreds of miles from the Tallahassee Veteran's Hospital, yet its fury is being felt by VA staff.

Its deadly dance snapped a sprint switching system in New Orleans, putting a kink in long distance service and the VA's computer network.

Katrina's kink in phone and Internet service has hampered prescription refills at the VA Hospital. Now patients must bring in their bottles for refills.

"Already had five people from Mississippi who called and asked us to provide prescription, can't unless they have a bottle, and of coarse, they didn't."

Tallahassee Memorial Hospital is also unable to make long distance calls, which it uses for patient care, physician communication and lab services.

Robert Palmer says, "Distributed 30 phones on hand, distributed so we can continue without any patient interruption."

Healthcare officials say the kink in the chain of communication won't affect the quality of patient care. Until service is restored, Comcast has provided some Internet service to the VA Hospital.