Healthy Choices

Sutter loses backup power due to flooding, postpones elective surgeries

Doctors at Sutter Medical Center’s main hospital were forced to postpone or relocate 50 surgeries Wednesday due to underground flooding that caused a malfunction in one of the center’s backup generators, hospital officials said.

The emergency power switchboard for the Ose Adams Medical Pavilion, formerly known as Sutter General Hospital, is stored in an underground utility vault on L street and experienced electrical failure due to water damage, said spokesman Gary Zavoral. That impaired the power lines that run between the switchboard and the facility’s backup generator, he said, but regular power remained on.

The backup generators remained operational for other buildings on the midtown medical campus, including the recently opened Anderson Lucchetti Women's & Children's Center, Sutter Capitol Pavilion and the Buhler Specialty Pavilion.

Hospitals are required to maintain back-up power for operating rooms, Zavoral said. Because of the switchboard malfunction, 25 elective surgeries scheduled for Ose Adams operating rooms were canceled Wednesday, and another 25 non-elective surgeries were performed instead at operating rooms in the women’s and children’s center and Sutter Capitol Pavilion.

There’s a logistical hassle, an economic hassle, for a lot of people.

Dr. Nate Simon, chief of the department of anesthesia at the Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento

Dr. Nate Simon, chief of the department of anesthesia at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, said the incident put “a major wrench in the work” in terms of surgical scheduling.

“It impacted everybody,” he said. “There are a lot of people involved in the surgical process, from the nurses to the techs to the recovery room, that are affected by mass cancellations of this kind. There’s a logistical hassle, an economic hassle, for a lot of people.”

Zavoral said other generators were being installed Wednesday evening until repairs can be made. By Wednesday afternoon, back-up power had been restored to some of the operating rooms. Full restoration was expected to be completed overnight, he said, and most of the elective surgeries have already been rescheduled for Thursday and Friday.

“As always, patient safety is our top concern, and these steps ensure that all patients will receive the safe care they need,” Zavoral said in an email.

Sammy Caiola: 916-321-1636, @SammyCaiola