Hospitals Ask Davis to Order Exemption from Power Blackouts
Following utility companies' decision last week to include hospitals in statewide rolling blackouts, health care officials have been "scrambling" to exempt hospitals from future power outages, the Sacramento Bee reports. According to the California Healthcare Association, nine hospitals were forced to use backup power on Monday for about two hours. While no patients were harmed as a result of the power outages, some hospitals had to reschedule operations and delay procedures and patient discharges. To "spread" the blackouts as "broadly and equitably" as possible, the utility companies have reassessed their exemption lists and have added "dozens of hospitals, police stations and fire houses" that had been exempt from the blackouts. Utility officials say that state law requires them to include hospitals with backup generators on blackout lists, but hospital officials disagree and have asked Gov. Gray Davis (D) to order the Public Utilities Commission to exempt hospitals from blackouts. Since 1980, hospitals with 100 beds or more have operated under the assumption that they are "essential services" and therefore exempt from blackouts. Anabel Imbert, physician-in-chief at Kaiser Haywood Medical Center, which lost power for about two hours, said, "Patients and families were somewhat upset. They don't mind when these things happen in their home, but when it happens in a hospital where they receive care, it's terrible" (Griffith/Leavenworth, Sacramento Bee, 3/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.