New electricity generators have been installed behind St. John Hospital as part of an extensive electrical upgrade to the building.

Ten-hour power outage planned for St. John Hospital on Saturday

The power will be down at St. John Hospital this Saturday for 10 hours so that essential electrical upgrades can be completed.

The power will be down at St. John Hospital this Saturday for 10 hours so that essential electrical upgrades can be completed.

The power outage will start at 8 a.m. and should be back on by 6 p.m. at the latest.

During this time, hospital staff asks that patients only come to the hospital for emergency concerns such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or major bleeding.

Emergency patients will be assessed and/or treated before being transferred to UHNBC in Prince George.

Hospital staff will be working closely with BC Ambulance Service to divert patients requiring emergency care to UHNBC.

April Hughes, Health Services Administrator at St. John Hospital, says staff have been planning for the outage for months and that some power will be maintained in the building.

“We will still have physicians and nursing staff here and we will be using diesel generators and running big extension cords into the facility because we have equipment that we must maintain. The ultrasound clinic will also be running that day.

“We will also need electricity for inpatients so they can have their lights and call bells working etc.,” said Hughes.

Power must be turned off so that the electrical transfer switch at the hospital can be replaced.

“This switch transfers power from hydro pole power to generator power when there is an unplanned power outage,” said Hughes.

“Our current switch is pretty worn out and needs to be replaced,” she said.

She added that the reason the power will be off for so long is due to the small confines of the space where the switch is.

“It’s a small area that the men have to work in and they can only have one guy working in the space at a time,” she said.

Hughes says it is possible that the power could be back on within four to five hours but it’s possible it could take up to ten.

The new transfer switch will also include its own back-up switch should it fail.

“The new system has a safety built in so that if there’s a failure in the transition on one side, there’s actually a back-up switch, whereas right now there is one switch and if it fails, we’re hooped – we don’t have power from a generator or a hydro pole, that’s why this needs to be done,” said Hughes.

“These upgrades mean we will have much more stability in regards to back-up power and we will have a brand new diesel generator instead of our old one from the seventies,” she said.

Another benefit of the electrical upgrades will be improved air conditioning and air circulation throughout the hospital.

The replacement of the transfer switch marks a culmination of a large-scale electrical upgrade at the hospital that has been going on since the spring and will likely be completed early in the new year.

Upgrades include a new electrical room and new generators.

“It’s been quite the process,” said Hughes.

The electrical upgrade also needed to be completed prior to planned renovations to the interior of the hospital that are still in the design stage.