One thing that I have learned from living on the Mendocino Coast is that we don’t need to spend a lot of time planning disaster drills. Natural disasters seem to visit us regularly. I have been here for 3 years and 3 months now. Every single year we have had a power outage. Not a power outage where our hospital is on emergency generator power for 10 minutes. These are power outages where we are on emergency power from 10 to 24 hours. Yesterday, January 19, 2010 we were without PG&E power from approximately 5:00 a.m. until approximately 2:30 p.m. due to a severe rain storm that felled a forest tree that in turn knocked down a major power line that fed electrical power to the entire Mendocino Coast line. Since we are conditioned for a power outage like this our hospital management team and staff spring into action immediately. I could not be more proud of our entire team as they handled this emergency situation in a very professional and dedicated manner so that our patients would be inconvenienced as little as possible. We were on emergency generator power for the entire time that the hospital did not have PG&E power. Our plant maintenance department did an outstanding job of keeping the generator going despite the fact that a secondary generator failed early in the day causing us to have no generator power for either our refrigerator or our 2 x-ray rooms. Perishable goods were moved to a refrigerated unit offsite. Thank you to Hopper’s Dairy. 2 surgeries were cancelled due to the lack of power. MCDH operating room staff were in communication with the patients and rescheduled them for Wednesday, provided that we had electrical power. The patients agreed on Tuesday to proceed on the assumption that we would have restored power and that their surgeries would go on as planned. They agreed to prep for the surgeries and to wait until the last possible safe time (5 am this morning) to be informed if their surgery was actually going to happen or not. Since we had power today, 7 surgeries were planned to be performed today to get caught up for yesterday.
North Coast Family Health Center providers saw patients with flashlights since the NCFHC building does not have generator power. All Cardiology and Diagnostic Imaging appointments were cancelled for Tuesday. Rehab services was able to see patients without much disruption. They do not need much electrical power to provide treatments and they did have minimal generator power in their department. Oncology also stayed open during the day.
Hats off to Roni McDermott, Gus Killion, Jeanna Cauckwell, Jeff Diehl, Linda Dutcher especially, but to our entire staff for doing an outstanding job during the power outage.