SA hospital power cut at Christmas has palliative patients in darkness, without even a kettle

Palliative care patients at South Australia’s Port Augusta hospital are still using torches at night, nearly two weeks after non-essential power was cut on Christmas Day

Marion Ellis arrived in the palliative care wing more than a week ago, and has had no access to TV, a phone charger, a fridge or even a kettle.

“It seems that a majority of power points are affected,” Ms Ellis said.

“Due to the nature of my illness I am unable to read, write or do any craft activities, so the television is my lifeline to the outside world and helps relieve some of the boredom.

“Some areas of the hospital have extension cords hanging from the ceiling to allow other areas to access power,” she said.

On Wednesday January 6, full power had still not been restored to the hospital.

‘Would it happen in Adelaide?’

Her daughter Petrea said a big window was the room’s only light, but night-times were pitch black.

“It is difficult when the nurses help her to go to the toilet, because the toilet’s dark, there’s no light in there. If you want to shut the door you won’t see anything,” Petrea said.

The bathrooms in Port Augusta Hospital’s palliative care rooms are pitch black at night.(Supplied: Petrea Ellis)

While Ms Ellis said the staff had been brilliant in a difficult situation, she was concerned about the cleaners’ ability to clean bathrooms adequately in the dark.

“I think to myself, it is a hospital, you know should this happen? Would it happen in Adelaide?”

Repairs delayed by Christmas

SA Health said while the outage has posed no clinical risks, a delay to repairs over Christmas had meant power is unlikely to be fully restored until at least Wednesday January 6, or possibly later.

A kitchenette with its appliances not plugged in.
Patients say fridges, TVs and most non-essential power points are switched off.(Supplied: Petrea Ellis)

Flinders and Upper North Local Health Network chief executive Craig Packard said a local power surge on Christmas Day caused a power board to fail.

“A number of non-essential power points continue to be affected, including some inpatient TV power supplies and in-room power points.”

He said any disruption had been communicated with patients, with alternative options offered where possible.

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