Hospital Treats Case of 'Sorry, Wrong Number' : Education: Because of a mistake in a phone directory, Childrens Hosptial gets numerous calls from harried LACC students.


Because of a single-digit misprint in a phone directory, many frantic Los Angeles City College students have been ringing up staff at a nearby hospital instead of academic officials over the last three years.

The staff of the Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics Program at Childrens Hospital is inundated at the beginning of each semester with calls from hundreds of LACC students who want to register for classes, have questions about financial aid or have missed various college deadlines.

For the remainder of the year, the calls continue at a slower pace, said officials for the hospital program, which is designed for youngsters with emotional or behavioral problems.

"You hear these really bizarre stories," said Marge Proctor, administrative assistant for the program. "They get real frantic."

Proctor said a college phone directory published three years ago listed the extension for LACC's Office Administration Department as 4552, the pediatric program's extension, instead of 5552. The hospital and the college share the same 669 prefix.

When the first flood of calls came in, hospital officials immediately notified the college, but the directories were already widely in circulation, she said. Today, although revised directories have been issued, the hospital number is still being dialed by students.

"Apparently, people hang on to the old books," Proctor said.

Linda Scher-Padilla, chairwoman of the college's Office Administration Department, said the ringing in the hospital staff's ears may cease next month when the college begins using a new prefix. But students who succeed in reaching the department may still find they have a wrong number, she said.

The Office Administration Department cannot help students with scheduling, registration, financial aid or any other administrative problem because it is the academic department that offers courses in basic office skills, Scher-Padilla said.

Students with administrative questions should be calling the registrar, or the financial aid office, or . . .

But those are other numbers.

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