Lodi hospital can handle power outages.
SACRAMENTO — Health care providers and officials around Northern California said that PG&E’s electrical grid shutdown, expected to trigger blackouts in 34 of 58 counties on Wednesday, will test on a grand scale whether residents and medical care facilities have done enough to planning for medical emergencies.
“We would just go to our back-up generators. We have four back-up generators that reach our critical sites, which includes the intensive care unit, operating rooms, and our prenatal services department,” Lauren Nelson, Communication Manager at Adventist Health Lodi Memorial said.
Shellie Lima, director of the San Joaquin County Office of Emergency Services, said hospitals not only have back-up generators in place to continue offering services to the public, but they have also evaluated how much power will be needed in the result of a major outage prior to an incident.
The OES provides emergency support to agencies and facilities such as cities, first responders and hospitals in the event of a disaster, or even blackouts.
Lima said her agency is also prepared if a power outage reaches their office on East Earhart Avenue in Stockton.
“We have a backup generator that provides power to the building,” she said. “It automatically switches on and is gasoline powered. So we will be able to continue operating and providing support services to those who need it.”
Those services include possibly providing power to intersections or railroad crossings, providing water to residents, agencies and first responders, or setting up service centers and coordinating them with cities in the county, she said.
“Placer County is expected to be impacted by the public safety power shutoff event,” said Michael Romero, a program manager with that county’s Health & Human Services Department. “More than 50,000 meters, which could be up to 150,000 residents, could be impacted. Obviously, we’re very concerned with the impact.”
Romero urged residents to formulate a plan for to ensure their health needs would be met. That ranges from keeping food and water on hand to ensuring ensuring you know how to manually open your garage to ordering an additional oxygen tank for a loved one who’s dependent on the equipment, he said.
“Often, the plan is friends and family who aren’t in the impacted area,” Romero said. “Your best support system is the support system you have on a regular basis — friends and family. We encourage people to have that plan — that friend or family member — outside the impacted area that you might have to stay with a few days.”
Health care providers all around the state have been preparing for the worstcase warnings, that they and local residents may have to go without power for a week.
Early Tuesday morning in Lake County, Ruth Lincoln said that she was feeling as though her staff and clients at Hospice Services of Lake County had gotten some pretty good news. That’s when she got her first look at a map showing local addresses that fell within the blackout zone. While a number of clients would be affected, Lincoln said, the hospice’s central hub wasn’t and would still be able to serve as a backstop.
Then came the afternoon update, she said, and it was a game changer. The hospice’s hub now was in the blackout area, Lincoln said, and she had to schedule a call to regroup with the organization’s health care partners.
Fortunately, she said, the hospice staff had done work over the last few months to help clients and their families update or develop emergency plans for their households. They spent Tuesday ensuring that clients knew whether their homes were within the anticipated blackout zone, triple-checking that they had the medication, equipment and alternate power sources they needed.
“It’s going to be a real test of our emergency operations plan because we are spread through the county, providing services from east to west and north to south all around the perimeter of Clear Lake,” Lincoln said.
Rene Hamlin, the development director at El Dorado County’s Snowline Hospice, said that besides developing emergency plans for clients, hospices also must ensure they know which staff and volunteers will be available to continue offering services because their homes are usually within the same affected area as their clients.
They ensure arrangements are in place for transport, and they just might have to try and get services to new clients despite an emergency. Three new patients contacted Hospice Services of Lake County to start service this week, Lincoln said, and her staff is working to ensure they have what they need amid a blackout that will affect doctor’s offices, pharmacists, medical equipment suppliers and hospitals.
Lilli Heart escaped the Camp fire with her cats, Keeper and Kinde, as she seeks refuge at her friend’s home in Cottonwood on November 19, 2018.