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Widespread phone service problems traced to provider

A telephone service provider is being blamed for a widespread interruption of landline telephone service Thursday morning affecting area hospitals, a college and police agencies.

Among those affected were Kaleida Health facilities in Erie and Niagara counties, Amherst Police and the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office.

The problem was traced to Windstream Communications. WIVB-TV, Channel 4, reported that a spokesman for Windstream, Michael Teague, said the landline phone outage was caused by an electrical failure between Philadelphia and upstate New York.

“We became aware of the situation sometime around 4 in the morning,” Kaleida spokesman Michael P. Hughes said.

The health care provider worked with Windstream Communications, its service provider, to resolve what appeared to be problems with two major switches.

Kaleida facilities affected by the service interruption included Buffalo General Medical Center, Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Women & Children’s Hospital and DeGraff Memorial Hospital.

Emergency operation centers and patient care were not affected, Hughes added.

Kaleida used cellphones to maintain contact with outlying hospitals, said Hughes, adding that an alternative plan would have been implemented if the outage had continued.

Phone service at Roswell Park Cancer Institute was down for an undetermined about of time but was back up and running at about 9:30 a.m., according to Tara Yates, director of public affairs, who confirmed that Windstream is the hospital’s service provider.

Amherst Police had announced through social media that it was experiencing a telephone failure. However, the 911 emergency lines, general complaint line (689-1311) and information line (689-1322) were not affected, the department said.

“At this time only the administrative lines are unavailable. If you are calling an administrative line and receive the message ‘all circuits are busy,’ hang up and call 689-1322. If you need to report an emergency, hang up and call 911,” a Facebook message said during the outage.

In addition, Medaille College informed its faculty and staff Thursday morning that all inbound and outbound phone calls from its Buffalo campus were not functioning.

The Niagara County Sheriff’s Office returned to service about 10:30 a.m., though 911 service had not been affected.