SAN FRANCISCO—The storms that hit the city on Tuesday, March 21, knocked out the power at many locations including Zuckerberg San Francisco’s General Hospital (ZSFG). As of Wednesday, March 22, the hospital is still without power and is endangering lab samples that are being stored in the building’s freezers, as first reported by Mission Local.
Approximately 170 freezers containing specimens are currently without power. In a letter sent by UC San Francisco emergency operations they indicate that, “Current estimates from PG&E indicate that power will not be restored for several hours.” Researchers have been instructed to keep all freezers closed until power is restored.
For the time being, hospital staff are using dry ice to keep the specimens at the appropriate temperature. The slightest fluctuation in temperature can damage an at risk specimen.
“Once you open the freezer, the temperature goes way up very quickly,” said a researcher to Mission Local in an interview. “Just opening it can mess things up, so you have to decide whether to wait it out and hope it doesn’t go too low, or to find an alternative place to move it.”
General Hospital is still functioning with partial services. The emergency department, urgent care and trauma services remain open but doctors have been advised to reschedule all elective outpatient surgeries as procedures.
During the peak of yesterday’s level 3 storm, roughly 35,000 customers lost power, and as of today, over 8,000 customers in San Francisco still remain without power. City facilities also saw impacts caused by power outages, including the Public Works Yard, Pier 94 where trailers for the unsheltered are located, and ZSFG, which is running on backup generators and remains fully operational with minimal impacts to patient services. Power is expected to be restored to ZSFG and other facilities today.
Two people were taken to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital during the afternoon of March 21 to be treated for injuries resulting from two separate storm-related incidents. They did not survive their injuries.
The San Francisco 911 call center experienced a surge of calls at over 400% normal call volume during the peak of the storm, resulting in longer than normal wait times for 911 callers. Emergency communications and 311 dispatchers worked quickly to reroute many non-emergency storm-related calls to 311 and the public was advised to save 911 for life safety emergencies.
Residents are reminded to please keep 9-1-1 available for police, fire, and medical emergencies that impact life and safety, and for downed power lines and gas leaks. To report fallen trees, flooding and other non-life-threatening storm issues to 311 online at sf311.org, on the 311 mobile app, or by calling 311. For updated forecasts, visit the National Weather Service. For more information about how to be safe and prepared for extreme weather, and other emergencies, please visit www.sf72.org.