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Portage Health

Houghton/Hancock, Michigan

They listen to our concerns - not like listen and have things fall on deaf ears - they take action upon it.

Carolyn Gilbertson, Director of IT

Project Scope

Tucked away in the hills of Upper Michigan stands Portage Health. This not-for-profit healthcare system offers services from emergency/trauma, to pediatrics, orthopedics, wellness screenings and also many surgical procedures. With this level of patient care Portage Health needs to keep all lines of communication open. That is why their team chose to implement a Mitel MiVoice solution with Enterprise Systems Group. Read the full interview with the Director if IT, Carolyn Gilbertson.

ESG: What was the process Portage Health used in deciding what voice platform to implement?
Carolyn: We already had an Avaya system in place, so that wasone option. Cisco was a contender, Shoretel and Mitel. We createda matrix of features and functionalities we wanted: having different queues for staff, ability to transfer calls from multiple locations and also the quality of the phones themselves.

ESG: Why did you choose Mitel over Cisco or Avaya?
Carolyn: Aside from the features, we looked at the vendor relationship. That was really important as well. ESG distinguished themselves by being very personable, by being there when we needed them and being flexible. Looking at our organization as a whole and not just selling us a piece of equipment, but really making sure they were selling a solution that met our needs now and into the future.

ESG: What about Portage Health being a medical organization made the VoIP implementation more complicated.
Carolyn: Well, a lot of other 24x7 shops can be down for a period of time, obviously we can’t. Setting up we had continuous access relays in strategic places, like emergency, so they could have communication open during the down time while we were switching over to the new VoIP system. We planned for a 10 minute down time. We were only down two minutes and 45 seconds; so pretty impressive.

ESG: How have the people of ESG been able to handle the needs of Portage Health?
Carolyn: I think the people of ESG handle our needs very well. They listen to our concerns – not like listen and have things fall on deaf ears – they take action upon it. As we’re expanding our demands, ESG has been very responsive to come back and do additional follow-up with our end users to show them how to use other features, as well as observing how people are using the phone system and giving little tips and techniques to better handle the learning process.

ESG: How has the new phone system helped Portage Health run more efficiently?
Carolyn: It helped save our butts, so to speak. We went live in the middle of the week and our Avaya system died two days later. We put the new phone system in the nick of time. I think managing the call queues and letting the business units have ownership over that has really helped, it has streamlined business a lot.

ESG: What advice would you give to someone looking to implement a new VoIP system?
Carolyn: I would tell them pretty much everything I’ve said. Go with ESG. They’re responsive, very collaborative, very much want to be a part of the success and not just today, but success tomorrow too.
I think that’s been the best thing about ESG is the willingness to be collaborative and not to point fingers.

ESG: How does ESG rank compared to other vendors?
Carolyn: If I were to rate vendors on a scale of 1-10, I would say ESG is probably close to a 9, where other vendors might be down about a 4.5 or 5. So pretty good!