THE Point Fortin Area Hospital was plunged into darkness for almost an hour Wednesday night when a power outage was compounded by a malfunctioning generator which failed to kick in.
Patients who spoke to Newsday, said there were anxious moments as some of them started to panic when shortly after 7 pm, the power went and the back-up generator did not come on automatically as it should. As the darkness persisted, staff informed patients in the Accident and Emergency Department, who were awaiting medical attention, they had two options as doctors could not attend to them in the darkness. Patients were told to either wait or if they lived close by, return to their homes and someone would call them when the power was restored.
Staff confirmed the generator has been malfunctioning for some time and requires switching on and off by electricians/technicians, in the event of an outage. Newsday was told that on Wednesday night, the technicians who live out of the Point Fortin area, were not on duty and had to be called out. It took some time for them to get to the hospital and start the generator and power was restored around 8 pm.
Contacted for comment, CEO of the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) Gail Miller-Meade admitted there was an outage, but denied the generator failed to kick in. She said according to her information, there is no issue with the generator and that it is working properly.
Miller-Meade said she received a report from the hospital manager who assured that the generator usually kicks in after a few minutes to facilitate the switching of power from one unit to another and it did on this occasion. She also confirmed that when the electricity returned the generator could not switch off automatically and the technicians were called out at that point to manually switch it off.
“The hospital was not out of current for that period. There were no reports that patients were in danger. There were no emergency cases at the hospital, which has resumed surgery,” Miller-Meade said.