83-year-old man reaches out for help getting heart monitor to work

Worn phone lines impact man's heart monitor

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Roland Pitts' phone line is his lifeline because it is linked to his heart monitor.

So, when the 83-year-old man discovered doctors weren't getting important data from his pacemaker, he reached out for help getting Verizon to keep that line in working order.

The issue was resolved quickly with an engineer making the repairs Tuesday in about an hour - for no charge.

Pitts had been trying to get the line fixed since April, but Verizon did not explain why the repair took so long.

"His phone box was shorted from an older deteriorated box and I upgraded it and rewired his house and made sure his phone is working and DSL is up and running," Verizon engineer Jon Cary said.

Pitts showed documentation reflecting repeated calls and emails to Verizon over the course of four months requesting service repairs. Although then, he did not tell them about his heart monitor, just that his five phones didn't work.

"April 28 , no line again. Why should I pay you? April 26, no line. When are you going to fix this recurring problem?" Pitts said, reading from some emails sent to Verizon. "July the 25th, please schedule an appointment for the repairman to visit me. July 26, please help me. I'm an 83-year-old man."

Instead of a call to schedule an appointment, Pitts said he got a performance survey requesting his feedback. His response was scathing.

"I said I hate your service or lack of it. I hate your computerized answering service. Why has someone not called me back to schedule an appointment for a repairman to visit as I have requested numerous times?" Pitts said.

When VCU Medical Center sent a letter saying the data wasn't coming in, that's when Pitts decided he needed outside help. Even manually pushing the heart button on his monitor wasn't getting a signal through.

Following Tuesday's repairs, the heart monitor is working once again.

The monitor keeps Pitts from making repeated doctor's visits. His doctor can detect any abnormal heart rhythms by phone and instruct him on what to do, so he only has to make an annual appointment.

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