In an emergency, every hospital is an island. This has been reflected vividly over the past few years, between regional power outages, hurricanes, floods and tsunamis. The settings and locations have been distinct, but the results have been similar: tremendous strain on health care providers to maintain the continuity of care through the adversity presented by being cut off from all support and an external and sometimes internal infrastructure in turmoil or failure. The lessons learned from those events have shaken the previous belief that “adequate” is enough.
However, no greater challenge exists than having that hospital located on an actual island. The irrational expectation of every resident and visitor in need is that care will continue, and that the HVAC system and the cooling will run—no matter how outside forces may challenge the hospital’s very existence, let alone its ability to remain in operation. Add to that the ever-evolving sophistication and computer-dependency reflected in today’s medical environment, and the role of the hospital emergency power system stretches far beyond a simple system planning decision.