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North County gets new area code

SAN DIEGO – North County residents and businesses are adjusting to the addition of a new 442 area code.

The new area code includes Encinitas, Carlsbad Oceanside, Escondido, Ramona and Julian.

The 442 area code was first introduced as an option for residents and businesses in 2009, but now it’s the only option. However instead of forcing those who already have 760 to change to 442, the Public Utilities Commission is allowing both 760 and 442 to co-exist in the same geographical area.

One of the largest businesses affected is the new Palomar Health Center, which employs more than 5000 people.

“We have had numerous calls where people are asking, ‘Is this Escondido?’” said Gabrielle Chini, who supervises the call center. “It’s been very confusing.”

Chini manages both Palomar East, which still uses the 760 area code and Palomar West, which is now using 442.

442 area code

442 area code zone

It’s a matter of letting the community know about the change, she said.

“I wouldn’t say it hurts the business, it’s just an education point,” Chini said.

Since Palomar knew they would be getting a new area code, they used the change to their advantage.

“We knew we would be changing to new business cards,” said media relations director Lionel Sanchez. “We have been re-branding Palomar Health System, so it was strategic decision.”

The new state of the art facility has more than 2000 nurses, using high tech tools like individual mobile work stations that operate by a phone number.  Each nurse has his or her own mobile device to keep in constant contact.

Brian Krail is in charge of IT and telecommunications at Palomar, the new building had so many phone requirements they had to use the 442 area code.  Yet, he admits it worked to their benefit because they were new.

“It would have been more difficult if we were trying to do the same thing in one of our existing campuses to change numbers and area codes,” Krail said.

From now anyone dialing from the 760 area code to 760 or 422 must dial the entire 10 digit number to accommodate the overlay.