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Storm To Knock GRMC Power

Storm knocks out GRMC power

A lightning strike on the Great River Medical Center grounds early Wednesday forced the hospital to use its backup electrical systems for about three hours.

Some surgeries and diagnostic imaging had to be delayed, but otherwise little notice was made, according to hospital spokesman Craig Borchard.

"This is the first time since we've been out here that we've run solely on the backup generators," Borchard said, referring to the spring 2000 move from the downtown Burlington hospital.

Patients in critical areas, however, were not affected.

The only service that was fully shut down, Borchard said, was the health fitness program at the Center for Rehabilitation.

Rehabilitation center users were turned away during the outage, but computers in patient registration, which are linked to the emergency backup, remained up and running.

Sensors on the hospital's power system noted the loss of its first electrical feed at 4:37 a.m. The second feed went out 10 minutes later.

Borchard said that with two electrical feeds, the hospital can switch to backup feed to keep power in patient areas. Backup generators take over when both feeds are lost.

Power was not fully restored until after 7:30 a.m.

An Alliant Energy spokesman said lightning struck a utility pole on hospital grounds, blowing an arrestor and fuses at the pole, which in turn affected Alliant equipment inside the hospital.

The residence halls at nearby Southeastern Community College also were affected by the outage.

"We conduct regular tests of our emergency backup generators to ensure that we're always prepared for something like this," Borchard said in an e?mailed statement. "Although we never want to be in a situation in which we're without regular electrical service for any length of time, it is reassuring to know that our backup systems worked as expected."