Focus: Emergency Preparedness

California power outage disrupted patient care on Northern Coast

November 25, 2019

Four healthcare providers in a single California county lost heat, lights, running water, telephones, =patient records and more during the largest intentional power shutdown in American history, according to an article on the Direct Relief website.

A majority of the state’s counties lost power for portions of October, as Pacific Gas & Electric and other California utility companies shut down the grid in an attempt to prevent their infrastructure from sparking wildfires amid strong winds.

“It was a wake-up call for everybody,” said Lynn Finley, chief nursing officer of Mendocino Coast District Hospital (MCDH) in Ft. Bragg. “We’re anticipating we will see this frequently, so we need to be better prepared to take care of our communities.”

In late October, Direct Relief surveyed nearly 300 community health centers in California about how they were affected by the power shut-downs. Of the 31 that responded, 39% said they had lost power during the grid shut-offs, and 29% were forced to close during the outages.

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