Hospitals cope with power outage

Bangor Daily News
Posted July 25, 2008, at 12 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine -&nbsp Thursday morning’ s power outage caused a flurry of cancellations and rescheduling at area hospitals, but it was business as usual at Eastern Maine Medical Center.

“The lights didn’ t even flicker,” said facilities administrator Joel Farley. That’ s because the hospital generates about 98 percent of the electricity it needs at its own co-generation plant, powered by natural gas, on the main campus. The plant was completed in August 2006 and was fully operational that October.

Farley said his crew of electricians did a little “power shedding” in response to the outage — mostly turning off lights in nonpatient areas — but that no other adjustments were needed to keep the hospital running as usual.

Emily Beamer, senior communications specialist at the hospital, said a few patients asked to have their elective surgeries rescheduled and some patients scheduled for procedures at other hospitals were treated at EMMC instead. Otherwise, no changes were made, she said.

Across town at Saint Joseph Hospital, four elective surgeries were canceled and four other patients were transferred to EMMC for colonoscopies.

The transfers were done “for the comfort and convenience of our [colonoscopy] patients who had done a lot of prep work,” said Bethany McKnight, director of the hospital’ s public affairs office. St. Joseph Hospital has enough backup generator capacity to stay up and running for four days, McKnight said.

With violent thunderstorms whipping through Washington County, Down East Community Hospital in Machias lost electrical power briefly at about 5 a.m. Thursday. The power came back on shortly afterward, but went out again just before 8 a.m. and stayed out until about 10 a.m.

Spokeswoman Robin Popp said all surgeries were canceled for the day because hospital officials were told it would be several hours before power was restored in the region. Popp said DECH has emergency backup generators and would have been able to perform any emergency surgeries needed. Before the power came back on, several patients had showed up for routine and diagnostic imaging, including mammograms, CAT scans and MRIs. Some chose to wait, while others rescheduled their tests.

At Maine Coast Memorial Hospital in Ellsworth, the power was only out for about an hour, said spokeswoman Lois Macias. The hospital’ s backup generators kicked in and elective surgeries were delayed until the power came back on, she said.

mhaskell@bangordailynews.net

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http://bangordailynews.com/2008/07/25/sports/hospitals-cope-with-power-outage/ printed on July 31, 2014