Power outage prompts partial evacuation at Allegheny General Hospital

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Portions of Allegheny General Hospital were evacuated this morning due to a short power outage, but the Emergency Department was not affected and power has been restored.

Allegheny Health Network spokesman Dan Laurent said the power outage affected the South Tower and East Wing of the North Side facility, disrupting operations including dentistry, ophthalmology, cardiovascular therapies and outpatient ambulatory surgery.

He reported "no adverse events related to it from a patient perspective,” and said that patients who had to evacuate were given meal tickets so they could eat for free in the cafeteria.

He could not immediately say how much of the building was cleared.

“We expect to be back to full, normal operations by 10 a.m.," said Mr. Laurent, adding that outpatient surgeries are being shifted to the unaffected Special Procedures Unit for the day. He said the hospital hopes not to postpone or cancel any procedures.

The outage was caused when a contractor dug into underground power lines along West Carson Street between the McKees Rocks Bridge and West End Bridge, according to Duquesne Light Co. spokesman Brian Knavish. That resulted in a loss of power to around 1,450 customers, but all power has been restored.

AGH patients described a calm but confused scene, saying power was out for 7-10 minutes before they were actually escorted out of the building.

"If it wasn't for the nurse coming in, we wouldn't have known to leave," said Minnie Skwara, who was at an eye appointment with her husband. The doctor continued the examination after the power initially went out, she said.

Matt Nussbaum contributed to this report. Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord. First Published June 9, 2014 8:55 AM

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