You don’t have to be in hospital management to know how vital it is to keep a hospital running during a natural disaster. Hospital downtime is unacceptable when electrically-powered machines are keeping people alive. But the consequences of hospital power outages go beyond the loss of life.
Examples of Hospitals That Lost Power
In 2003, a widespread blackout affected the northeastern United States, leaving over 45 million people across eight states without power. Around 75 New York hospitals had no electricity, with the longest outage lasting over two hours.
While hospitals have generators, hospitals experience electrical problems with their HVAC units and water pressure if this equipment fails. An extended blackout makes it impossible for some facilities to sterilize their equipment or refrigerate and cook in their cafeterias.
During the 2003 outage, doctors couldn’t view X-rays digitally or register and transport patients. Some patients even reported respiratory problems due to device failure.
Consequences of Downtime in a Hospital
When hospitals lack a plan for dealing with power outages, it can result in various consequences.
- Potential loss of life: If a backup generator doesn’t kick in right away when a natural disaster or other circumstances knocks out the power, those lifesaving machines can go down, and they may not easily start up again — even after the power comes back, or the generator finally starts working. With many of these machines, minutes can mean the difference between life and death.
- Loss of contact: When the power goes out, patients may lose access to the signaling system to ask for help from the medical staff. If the staff is unaware of their patients’ needs, they might miss vital changes in their condition and can’t administer treatment when needed.
- Limited access: Some facilities keep medications, vaccines or equipment behind doors with keyless entry. Downtime in a hospital restricts access to these items. Physicians may be unable to administer medicine or use the necessary equipment to provide their patients with treatment.
- Limited procedures: Another challenge with power loss in a hospital is the ability to complete surgery. If the lights go out in the middle of a procedure, the surgical team can’t always wait for them to come back on. Flashlights may allow a triage solution, but a power outage will significantly increase the risks and complications of surgery.
- Inability to communicate: If downtime affects other nearby hospitals, they may be unable to communicate with one another. Transferring records and patients becomes challenging, if not impossible, until the power comes back online.
- Damaged reputation: Injuries to patients or other negative outcomes resulting from a power outage are likely to bring lawsuits against the hospital. Additionally, sick or injured people may be reluctant to turn to your facility for treatment, knowing that you lack adequate preparation for a disaster situation.
Avoiding Hospital Power Outages
The best way to avoid extended power outages is to make sure you have a working generator and enough fuel to power it for as long as necessary at all times.
Foster Fuels’ Mission Critical division provides a complete range of emergency fuel services for hospitals.
- Guaranteed fuel delivery: Knowing you can rely on guaranteed fuel delivery, even in emergencies, ensures you will always have enough fuel for your generator to power your lifesaving or life-maintaining equipment, lights and other electronic devices at all times.
- Routine fuel delivery: Alongside our guaranteed deliveries, we also offer routine fuel deliveries to provide you with fuel for your generators throughout the year. You’ll be ready for a critical situation well before it occurs.
- Fuel testing and analysis: We make sure your existing fuel is as fresh and clean as possible with our fuel testing and analysis services, so your generator will start up right away when needed.
- Expert assistance: Additionally, we send experts to your site to analyze your facility layout and needs and develop an emergency fuel strategy now, before a disaster strikes. If an issue occurs, we will already have a plan to ensure all your equipment, generators and vehicles have the fuel they need to get you through.
Our emergency services are available 24/7, every day of the year. We’re ready to help in a critical situation so that you can continue offering vital medical treatment to your patients.
Questions to Ask Your Team
Create a list of questions to ask your team to ensure the hospital is ready to handle a power outage. Here are some of the questions you should ask:
- Do we have the contact information for our electric company readily available?
- Does our utility company consider the hospital to be a priority during an outage?
- Has the staff trained on the procedures to use in an outage?
- Can we participate in drills and exercises to prepare for potential outages?
- What resources should we prioritize for emergency power allocation?
- How much energy do we use with our regular operations?
- How long will our supply of fuel power our generators?
- How can we have fuel delivered during an extended outage?
Having definite answers for these questions ensures you and your team are ready for an outage. You can prevent many of the consequences of downtime in a hospital and restore lifesaving power to vital resources.
Contact Foster Fuels for a Guaranteed Fuel Contract Today
Once you have arranged for emergency fuel services with Foster Fuels Mission Critical, you have one less issue to worry about when it comes to managing your hospital. We have been serving the health care industry for almost 100 years, and you can be confident we can handle all your emergency fuel needs. To learn more, contact us today.
*Last Updated 02/08/2022