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When a series of powerful tornadoes struck the Oklahoma City area recently, it caused a breakdown in internal hospital systems, such as elevators and electricity powering critical equipment.
The experience helped hospitals in Oklahoma learn some valuable lessons that could be helpful during the year 2000 (Y2K) transition, according to CNN medical correspondent Eileen O’Connor. For example, while in-house generators were adequate for providing electricity, some hospitals realized they needed more fuel than they had anticipated.
And while contingency plans for downed telephone lines involved using cell phones, those systems ended up overloaded. "Every contingency plan was tested to the extreme to give us an opportunity to observe any weaknesses that the plan may have," says Randu Musick of Integrated Health Services.
Based on their newfound experiences, Oklahoma hospitals and nursing homes are redrawing their plans for Y2K. They are contacting power companies and other service vendors to check their Y2K compliance, and they are advising some firms, such as cellular phone companies, to expand services. Administrators also now plan to have more staff on hand to handle patient care.