Plumas District Hospital in Quincy released the following statement this morning, July 21, to explain its decision to close temporarily and divert customers:
Understandably, upon hearing that Plumas District Hospital closed temporarily yesterday afternoon, several community members have reached out to ask why. Here is what we know from the last 24 hours.
On Monday, July 19th, around 4 p.m., widespread grid disruptions caused a power outage across our community. Following this disruption, the diesel backup generator, that provided backup power generation for the main hospital building, failed shortly after coming online. This caused interruptions to the hospital’s phone service and internet as well.
Immediately upon learning of the outage, Chief Executive Officer JoDee Read established Incident Command, an emergency response team assembled in times of emergency. With the electricity out, and without a reliable source of backup power, PDH arranged for the transfer of seven patients to other facilities within the region, where they would receive uninterrupted care. Temperature sensitive medications, laboratory supplies, food and dietary inventory, and other medical resources were quickly relocated to other buildings that still had refrigeration.
Despite the electricity coming back online across the region at approximately 6:30n p.m., without a reliable backup power source, and out of an abundance of caution, Read made the decision to remain closed overnight.
Overnight, PG & E delivered and set-up two large transistor-based generators that will power the hospital until the Dixie Fire reaches full containment and the risk of power grid disruption becomes mitigated.
By Tuesday morning, the main generator was back online. Technicians had discovered that the failure was caused by excessive demand. Non-crucial electrical devices were disconnected, enabling a lower, more stable load. Hospital backup generators undergo demanding preventive maintenance routines that include weekly visual checks, monthly 45-minute load testing, and an annual 4-hour load testing. Load testing is the process of putting demand on a generator to see how the system behaves during normal and high loads. In this failure, technicians believe that the recent string of high temperatures and greater need for air conditioning, along with other electrical demands may have contributed to an excessive load on the main generator, causing it to shut off for an extended period of time.