Businesses, utilities ready for new year

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 18, 1999

Major businesses and utilities in the Miss-Lou are cautiously optimistic about their upcoming performance when clocks roll over into the year 2000.

&uot;Everything that I’m hearing is positive,&uot; said George Souderes, director of Adams County Civil Defense. &uot;There may be some small glitches.&uot;

BellSouth has engaged in constant testing to avoid those glitches.

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&uot;We’ve tested voice and data networks in a clock forward environment and everything is fine,&uot; said Pat Howard, regional manager for BellSouth.

One of the top concerns of most customers of BellSouth has been the continued operation of the 911 Emergency feature.

&uot;The 911 system has been completely updated,&uot; Howard said. &uot;Even customer billing has been tested in a clock forward environment.&uot;

Despite the confidence that continued testing can build, Howard said certain contingency plans have been put in place in case there are glitches in Y2K.

BellSouth has set up local information centers in each state and a corporate communications center in Atlanta, she said. &uot;We will have people working Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 to resolve any issues that arise,&uot; Howard said.

Her advice to customers is still to trust that the phone service will be operational at midnight on Dec. 31.

&uot;Don’t pick up the phone at midnight to see,&uot; she said. Thousands of customers all accessing the service at the same time could overload the system.

Bill Herrington, construction and maintenance supervisor for Mississippi Valley Gas, said his company’s Y2K plans are in place.

&uot;We didn’t have to do anything special to prepare,&uot; Herrington said.&uot;We will have a generator set up and gasoline for the generator, but all our equipment is run manually.&uot;

There have been a few curve balls for the health care industry in dealing with Y2K issues, said David Delaney, management information system director for Natchez Regional Medical Center.

&uot;For instance, with our IVAC systems,&uot; Delaney said, referring to intravenous medicine dispensers used on just about every patient unit in the hospital. &uot;Our IVACs have chips in them. We spent the longest time trying to find ways to test them and the manufacturer finally told us that there was no way to test them.&uot;

The saving grace for this type of machinery, he said, is that their basic function of dispensing specific doses of medication through intravenous tubing is not date-related and should not be affected by the Y2K rollover.

Delaney said the hospital corrected problems when equipment malfunctioned during testing.

Automated pharmacy dispensing units throughout the hospital were tested a year ago and those systems updated to assure that the right dose of the right medicine reaches the right patient. Delaney added that NRMC&160;will have a full staff on duty when 1999 rolls into the year 2000.

At Entergy, final Y2K testing continues. &uot;We’ve run checks and run checks and run checks on the checks,&uot; said Forest Persons, customer service manager for Entergy in Natchez.

Nuclear and Fossil Fuel Divisions of Entergy have all rolled their clocks forward and have been operating in a year 2000 mode with no problems.

&uot;They’ve been doing everything and didn’t miss a beat,&uot; Persons said.

Entergy will have additional servicemen on standby from 10 p.m. Dec. 31 until 2 a.m. Jan. 1, he said.

&uot;Even if Y2K doesn’t give us a problem, you know someone can still run over a pole,&uot; he said.