If you rely on an oxygen machine, sleep with a CPAP or have other medically essential equipment in your home that depends on electricity to operate, we know how important reliable electric service is to you and your family. WFEC takes great pride in restoring power to our members as safely and quickl
y as possible. However, when the co-op receives calls or comments from members regarding the urgency of their need, it compels us to want to do more even when our options are limited.
With the rise in use of in-home medical equipment, we receive many calls, comments, and yes, sometimes complaints, regarding the urgency of power restoration to members with specific health needs. This is not something we take lightly and it’s the reason for this article.
As previously stated, WFEC is limited with what we can do to restore power at an individual member’s home. The feature article in this issue of the Current Light Flashes, located on pages 10-11 explains and demonstrates how power must be restored during major outages. Even though the co-op is limited to a required process, please understand that all efforts are focused on restoring power to each of our members.
We’re doing all we can on our side of the lines to restore power as quickly and safely as possible, so this leads us to what else can be done on behalf of the needs of our medically essential members - primarily those that require oxygen. Although a backup power generator would be the best all-around solution, in many cases, automatic units are not affordable and portable units often are not feasible.
The same problem exists with backup power solutions like Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) systems or inverters as with generators – they’re rather expensive or not practical for use with this particular equipment. 51505001
However, we did find a viable solution for members on oxygen. When conferring with Jennifer Bostic, Office Administrator for Pulmonary Associates of Dothan she said, “With regards to our oxygen patients, I can tell you that our surrounding Durable Medical Equipment Suppliers (DMEs) are proactive about this and they go ahead and leave a large E-tank (sometimes two large E-tanks) at the patient’s home for those type of emergencies. Those typically last about 4-6 hours. During storms they do make sure patients have several tanks and have someone on call, but try to encourage patients on oxygen to seek a health shelter or get a generator for support in the case of a long outage,” she continued.
We encourage any member who is on oxygen or is the caregiver of someone dependent upon oxygen to contact their DME to ensure they have an adequate supply of oxygen for extended electrical outages. Patients also need to contact their local emergency management office to locate the closest health shelter they can use during storms or extended outages.
Call the co-op as soon as possible to report outages – we promise to do all we can to get your power restored as safely and as quickly as possible. However, if you’re on oxygen, make sure you have the contact info for your DME available to notify them in extended outage situations or the means to travel to a nearby health shelter before your need becomes critical.