Power outage cuts Valley Health data system temporarily

Posted: March 19, 2013

The Winchester Star

UPDATED to correct Last Name to Tom Urtz

— Officials at Valley Health are investigating what caused a circuit breaker to trip at Winchester Medical Center’s data center on Amherst Street late Saturday afternoon. The resulting power outage shut down 200 information systems across the facility’s six-hospital network for 53 minutes.


Tom Urtz, director of marketing and public relations, said Monday that the outages affected data systems like email and telephones, not monitoring systems involving patients.


“We’re still doing diagnostics,” he said. “We don’t know the root cause.”


The majority of the systems were back in service on Monday, Urtz said, returning when the power was restored. “Some systems take longer to get up and running” because of the time it takes computers to reboot, he added.


At the time of the outage — about 5:50 p.m. — Winchester Medical Center officials decided to divert new patients, but after about 20 minutes, canceled that request. Urtz said he did not know if any patients ended up being diverted to other hospitals.


He noted that WMC practices drills for different types of emergencies, and how to handle them.

“This is one of them,” he said.


Joan Roscoe, vice president of information systems and chief information officer at Valley Health, said Sunday that personnel used walkie-talkies and their cellphones to fill the gap left by the outage.

Valley Heath’s other hospitals in Warren, Page and Shenandoah counties, and Berkeley Springs and Romney in West Virginia, also link into the data center and were affected by the power outage to some degree, Urtz said.


No other buildings on the WMC campus were affected by the outage.


— Contact Val Van Meter at vvanmeter@winchesterstar.com