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August 2012 (1)

Power failure in the hospital!

Written by Antje on September 5th 2019 11:27

The last two weeks were filled with concern about the power supply. One of the main fuses, where power enters the compound, burned out. Apparently, this fuse was already in need of replacement, but the correct part had not been found by the people responsible for purchases. Now the situation had suddenly become urgent.

Thankfully the hospital could be supplied by a generator, but the rest of the compound had no power. This month it is around 34°C by day, with high humidity, so it feels like 40°C. Not pleasant without ventilation. The fuse was temporarily replaced for a few hours, but it soon became apparent that this was very temporary indeed because it started to overheat!

Yesterday this fuse was replaced by another, which caused a fault. A number of switches burned out. Suddenly there was a total power cut. Including the hospital. There are often power failures in the hospital caused by a failure of the local network, but normally the main generator is started up and within a couple of minutes there is power again. Not now. It was thought that the problem would continue all day.

Now we had to think very seriously of priorities. We do have a small emergency generator which was ready as a backup for the replacement of the fuse, but it became now essential. Most of our oxygen supply comes from oxygen concentrators: machines which extract oxygen from the air and deliver it to the patient. The advantage of this is that we don’t have to bring in many cylinders from the city. The disadvantage is that they use electricity. An emergency cable had to be run from the emergency generator to the neonatal ward, to the delivery suite and to the operating theatre. That was quite quickly sorted out.

No power also meant that our ultrasound didn’t work, and we had no Xray possibilities. The laboratory also didn’t have any electrical power so we couldn’t do many diagnostic tests. After an hour we managed also to run an emergency cable to the lab so that we could start tests again.

And then, after about three hours without power, complaints started coming in that there wasn’t any more water! The water pump that normally fills the water tanks had also stopped. As well as this, from the moment that there was a power cut in the first place, there were no ventilators running on the wards so it was hot everywhere!!!

Thankfully after about four hours, an emergency solution was found and we had power again. However, we were warned that no air conditioners could be turned on; as most of the wards don’t have any, that wasn’t really much of a problem. Finally, one of our staff arrived yesterday evening from Dhaka with the right part, which was installed in the middle of the night. Hopefully everything will be OK again.

I’m thankful that it really rained hard yesterday morning, just before all the fuses blew. Because of this, we had many fewer outpatients than normal. So we were able to see the patients who did actually manage to come, despite the dark, hot examination rooms.

And I was really impressed how well people here cope in a crisis. I didn’t hear a single complaint from the patients. People in dark, hot wards had their own fans which they could wave and didn’t complain. Nobody asked how anything like this could possibly have happened. Our own staff just responded by doing what needed to be done and got on with it.

Here is a photo of me with our new dermatome for removing skin for transplantation. About half a year after our old one broke, we bought this second-hand one. It works really well! I’m thankful for people who support us in all kinds of ways and keep the hospital going.

IMG_9530.jpeg

The rice has almost everywhere been planted again...