For those who are involved in hospital and generator projects here are a couple of interesting items. NFPA 99 and 110
From The Plain Dealer
Area hospitals relied on emergency systems, staff in blackout
Plain Dealer Reporter
It's one thing when the lights at home blink off because of a power failure.
It's quite another if the operating room goes dark and breathing machines shut down.
Hospitals affected by last week's blackout in eight states and parts of Canada suddenly found themselves relying on emergency power systems to stay open - and to keep their most critically ill patients alive.
"You learn very quickly how dark a stairwell can be without emergency lighting," said Alan Channing, president of St. Vincent Charity Hospital.
The downtown hospital went black Thursday night when a faulty fuel line caused three emergency generators to shut down for about 30 minutes. During that time, dialysis machines and ventilators had to be hand-operated for a few patients, Channing said.
One emergency generator failed at the Cleveland Clinic, though power from others kept that hospital running. Overall, area hospitals appeared to have few emergency power problems.
It was a different story in New York, where the Daily News reported that about half the city's 58 hospitals had emergency generator problems.
"Everybody is blowing generators," the president of one hospital told the New York Times. "I'm shocked at what I'm seeing."
Most emergency power system failures can be attributed either to old equipment or to lax maintenance and testing of generators, said A. Dan Chisholm, a hospital consultant in Florida and publisher of Health Circuit News, an online newsletter devoted to electrical issues that hospitals face.
Although there are codes and standards for testing and maintaining emergency generators, Chisholm suspects that some cash-strapped hospitals have not paid adequate attention to their equipment.
Hospitals are supposed to run the diesel-powered generators for 30 minutes once a month, and for at least four hours at full power every three or four years. Monthly tests also are required on the switches that automatically start generators within 10 seconds after power fails.
"If all hospitals were to do that, I think you'd have a pretty healthy system," Chisholm said. "But my question is: Is it actually being done?"
Hospital officials say they adhere to the requirements of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, which inspects most hospitals every three years. But the Joint Commission's inspection teams, made up of specially trained doctors, nurses and hospital administrators, "are not qualified to determine the health of the electrical system," Chisholm said. "Those folks do not know infrastructure."
The survey teams check paperwork to see whether generators are being properly tested and maintained, Joint Commission spokesman Mark Forstneger said. Surveyors also can judge compliance by asking hospital workers whether they recall the last time the emergency power system was tested.
Chisholm said hospitals spent extra money on their emergency power systems in the late 1990s as part of their Y2K preparations. When Jan. 1, 2000, rolled around, everybody was ready and waiting for something to happen. This time it was different.
"This thing that happened the other day, this was unannounced," Chisholm said.
Even with regular testing, a hospital cannot be absolutely sure how well its emergency system will work until there is an extended power failure, said a Northeast Ohio consulting engineer who did not want to be named. "Things happen in hour 15 that don't happen in hour two," he said.
Most hospitals have several emergency generators, giving them a cushion in case one fails.
When one of the Clinic's generators went down, workers switched the load to two others for several hours while they made repairs, said Roland Newman, head of facilities operations.
"At no time did we have any situation that compromised patient care," he said.
During the 30 minutes that St. Vincent's emergency system was down, "the things that became obvious to us were how dependent everyone has become on electrically powered devices," Channing said.
Nurses used hand cranks to raise or lower electric beds stuck in one position. Staff members with flashlights stood sentry at each floor landing. Members of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, who run the hospital in partnership with University Hospitals Health System, returned from a religious retreat to deliver meals to patients and staff.
"I am extraordinarily proud of the caregivers at St. Vincent," Channing said. "Everybody pitched in."
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To hear an interview with Dan Chisholm
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[This message has been edited by Roger (edited 10-19-2003).]