Management at a children’s hospital that experienced a major power failure yesterday said it demonstrated why a new national children’s hospital was needed.
Five critically ill patients in Temple Street Children’s University Hospital in Dublin were transferred across the city to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital as a precaution.
More than 20 scheduled surgeries and all elective X-rays in Temple Street were postponed. It was also “off-call” for ambulances until 6pm yesterday.
Director of nursing and acting chief executive, Grainne Bauer, said they took a planned pro-active approach to the situation.
There was a brief interruption to Temple Street’s power supply at about 3am yesterday morning before a backup generator kicked in.
A technical examination revealed that the hospital’s transformer located in its sub-station had developed a fault and needed to be replaced. Power was lost for just eight seconds before the hospital’s generator switched on.
A backup generator was installed yesterday evening, and a replacement transformer is expected to be in place tomorrow.
The hospital planned to bring the five gravely ill patients back to its intensive care unit today when all normal services will resume, including scheduled elective surgeries.
Ms Bauer said the backup generator was working perfectly, but they decided, as a purely precautionary measure, to transfer their sickest patients and cancel any theatre work.
Temple Street is due to move to the St James’s site by 2020 along with Crumlin and Tallaght children’s hospitals.
Ms Baurer said a lot of maintenance work had to be carried out at Temple Street for health and safety reasons.
“This is an old building; this is why we need a new hospital,” she said.
Temple Street’s clinical director, Dr Adrienne Foran, said the hospital’s morning out-patient clinics ran as usual yesterday morning but afternoon clinics and x-rays were reduced.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio, Dr Foran said, they had to do practical things, like only using their MRI or CT scanner in an emergency and turning off kettles and computers.
They wanted to ensure there was no pressure put on the hospitals’ generator until the contingency generator was installed.
The hospital urged parents not to bring their children to the hospital yesterday.
“We had superb support from our colleagues in Crumlin and Tallaght and their technical and clinical back-up available if we needed it from the Mater and Beaumont,” said Dr Foran.
However, a small number of very complex surgeries could not go ahead because of the power situation.
They discussed proceeding with one of the planned operations but decided against it for safety reasons — if the generator failed they would only have two hours back-up in the theatre from the universal power supply.
“We will try and reschedule those complex ones for tomorrow (Friday) or early next week so there are not prolonged delays,” she said last night.
Ms Baurer said they were lucky that the weather was mixed yesterday. “Sometimes, on a very nice day, we would have a lot of footfall. At the moment, we don’t.”
However, the hospital’s GP liaison nurse was busy —she was contacting GPs all day letting them know about the precautions taken.
Ms Baurer said Temple Street, Crumlin and Tallaght liaised with each other. At times, staff from one hospital would travel to another that was working at full capacity and coming under pressure.
Parents can telephone the hospital at 01 8784200.