New ‘playbook’ preps RI hospitals for power outages

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A new booklet unveiled Thursday has set down policies and procedures — a little more clearly than they were before — for the hospitals of Rhode Island to be prepared if they lose their power supply.

“Protecting Patients When Disaster Strikes,” dubbed the ‘playbook’ for medical facilities by the Rhode Island Emergency Management Association and the Rhode Island Department of Health, doesn’t have new information, but for the first time ever, the before-during-after of a power outage is now compiled in an easy-to-understand, public booklet.

“It really brings to light tremendous work that’s been going on for years,” said state health director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott.

A national group, “Powered for Patients,” collaborated on the book with several state agencies, breaking down a potential extended power outage into four phases — of how it’ll progress, and what to do.

“It is a well-documented fact that emergency backup generators do fail,” RIEMA director Peter Gaynor said. “It’s happened in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, in San Diego during a blackout, and in recent months right here in Rhode Island.”

Every person in the chain gets instructions in the book, from a facility manager right up to the governor.

Eric Cote, the project director employed by Powered for Patients, believes Rhode Island is kicking off a national trend with the initiative that engaged stakeholders so much.

Every hospital, health care and assisted living facility in the state will receive a copy of the playbook.