Technology plays an ever-growing part in the modern healthcare system, helping medical professionals track patient data, make treatment decisions, communicate with other facilities and individuals, and more. As a result, the sudden loss of this technology could have a potentially devastating impact on hundreds, if not thousands, of people connected to a medical center. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened to one hospital in southern Idaho after its server room suddenly lost power.
On Sunday, January 4, the server room at St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center lost power, affecting at least two health centers in the area. The power outage knocked out the phone system, blocked access to medical files and dismantled the time card system at the hospital in Twin Falls, while medical professionals at St. Luke’s clinic in Jerome were also unable to access their data. Fortunately, the clinic’s phone system was not affected. The problems continued until early Monday morning.
A hospital spokesperson reported that several of St. Luke’s protocols helped the medical centers continue their services: the hospital, for example, keeps paper records on the treatment of patients in the building every day. Similarly, patients checking into the hospital are asked to fill out forms with their medical and family histories. Staff members were reportedly able to use these resources to help them provide care during the outage.
The hospital’s phone systems, however, were another matter: in addition to the compromised phone lines, the power outage knocked out the internet-based interpretation system. Fortunately, Spanish-speaking staff members were on hand to assist patients, and a phone-based service was used for other languages.
Currently, hospital representatives say they are still trying to figure out what caused the server problems. Unfortunately, the list of potential reasons is seemingly unlimited: server rooms can be compromised by everything from temperature to a poor arrangement of server rack cabinets, to name just a few.
Despite its earlier problems, the St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center and clinic have returned to their normal capacity. Both facilities are accepting patients.