Flinders ICU back on mains power after blackout

UPDATE: Flinders Medical Centre’s intensive care unit is back on the main grid but only essential services are being powered after a transformer electrical fault blacked out the hospital on Tuesday afternoon.

Aug 23, 2023, updated Aug 23, 2023
Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily.

Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily.

While some of the hospital regained mains power last night, the ICU had to rely on back-up generator power overnight and this morning.

Southern Adelaide Local Health Network CEO Kerrie Freeman said after 7am Wednesday that the ICU would be powered entirely by backup generator for the foreseeable future until the issue was resolved.

But at a later press conference, Freeman clarified that the ICU was no longer reliant on generators for its power source.

“While they’re only on essentials the offices and the tea room don’t have power,” she said.

“We now have a number of layers of redundancy; we have two main power lines coming into the hospital at all times so if one fails we have the other and now we also have backup generators.”

Patients were urged to seek medical attention elsewhere and emergency lighting was set up inside the hospital following yesterday’s outage.

Freeman said 10 Flinders Medical Centre patients had been moved “down the corridor” to the adjoining Flinders Private yesterday “out of an abundance of caution”.

“We’ve got no reason to think the generators would fail, but when you’re in an ICU situation we need to be absolutely sure that there’s a second or even a third option,” she said.

When asked why it would take so long to get the transformer replaced, Freeman said the fix was a “significant undertaking”.

“The failure was actually on our site, on our transformer, and the reason it’s going to take a number of weeks is you don’t just go and buy a big transformer down at Bunnings – it’s a significant undertaking,” she said.

“Even the large cables that need to be brought on site will likely need to be craned in.”

A formal report into the outage from Flinders’ engineering team is being compiled, and Freeman said there “there will be no secrets around that”.

“We just need to get to the bottom of what happened and get the repair in place as soon as we can,” she said.

Later in the day, Freeman said she had commissioned an independent report into the outage where she hopes to receive a “full explanation of what happened”.

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