Backup generators failed at San Jose hospital during blackouts

SAN JOSE — On one of the hottest days in the city’s recorded history and with energy officials anticipating possible blackouts, backup generators failed at a major Santa Clara County hospital in San Jose on Tuesday night, leaving parts of the facility entirely without power for around four hours.

The exact number of buildings within Santa Clara Valley Medical Center without power wasn’t immediately clear as of late Wednesday afternoon, though hospital officials said no patients were put in life threatening situations. They added that the blackout caused the emergency room to temporarily close down on Tuesday night to stroke, heart attack, trauma, and ambulance arrivals.

A total of seven patients were transferred to other hospitals, while nine were relocated within the facility to areas with working power. Some elective procedures were canceled on Wednesday due to uncertainty surrounding the power grid’s capabilities.

“Emergency planning for Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, and all hospitals, takes place for situations like these,” county hospital spokesperson Joy Alexiou wrote in a statement. “Our emergency plans went into place immediately and patient safety was never compromised.”

The hospital is located on South Bascom Ave. and has 731 beds.

Hospital officials said that both VMC, as well as O’Connor Hospital a mile and a half to the north, lost power at approximately 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, with Pacific Gas & Electric notifying them of a substation failure. While backup generators provided power for O’Connor and sections of VMC, an unidentified number failed at VMC between approximately 8:30 p.m. and 12:30 p.m.

PG&E restored power to both buildings at around 1:40 a.m. early Wednesday morning.

District 4 Supervisor Susan Ellenberg, who represents the area where VMC is located, declined to comment.

The generator failures coincided with one of the most intense heatwaves in Northern California history, with San Jose reaching a record 109 degrees. Though rolling blackouts were mostly averted Tuesday night after Californians were able to avoid maxing out the electrical grid, portions of Palo Alto and Alameda also lost power.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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