Doctors and hospital officials in Cleveland and New York, two of the hardest-hit areas in the power outage last Thursday and Friday, say they survived without encountering any significant medical emergencies.
In Cleveland, the area where the outage is thought to have originated on Thursday afternoon, James Lane Jr., M.D., a cardiologist and president of the Cleveland Academy of Medicine, says hospitalized patients were alarmed when they were told of the blackout but they never lost power.
Lane says he was making rounds that afternoon at South Pointe Hospital in Cleveland when the blackout hit. He says he noticed the lights blink as the electrical system went from hard-wired power to the hospital's back-up generator.
"I immediately went to the ICU," says Lane, who was worried about some of his patients on electric-powered life-support machinery.
In the ICU and throughout the hospital, "patients were anxious but they were not in distress," he says.
Officials at the academy say other Cleveland hospitals also did well in the blackout, though Lane reports there were some minor inconveniences.
At South Pointe, Lane says, candles or flashlights were needed in nonessential parts of the hospital, such as janitorial closets, where the backup system did not operate. Also, since the power outage affected the water supply, the hospital had to bring in bottled water for drinking, wound-cleaning and other purposes, Lane adds.
Also, Lane says he was worried that the outage would last several days, possibly causing the backup generators to break down. He adds that he had no backup generator in his office, where patients were due Friday morning.
But he says power was restored by early Friday, and all patients with appointments showed up to a fully powered office.
Meanwhile, the backup generator at Mary Immaculate Hospital in the Jamaica section of Queens, N.Y., did not immediately come on, says Deborah Cohen, a spokeswoman for the hospital, which is part of New York-based St. Vincent Catholic Medical Centers.
But Cohen says the delay, due to problems in the hospital's long-term care unit, lasted just a few minutes and everything was fine after that.
Officials at the Medical Society of the State of New York, which also lost power, say Mary Immaculate was the only hospital they know of in the New York metropolitan area that had any problems with its backup generator during the blackout--the city's third outage in 38 years.
Cohen adds that the hospital also was concerned about discharging patients to homes without power.
She says power was restored gradually on Friday afternoon, neighborhood by neighborhood, and authorities could not provide accurate information on where it was restored.
As a result, the hospital delayed discharging many patients, Cohen says.