Cyclone Seroja serves up cold hospital food amid power instability concerns

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Lisa FavazzoGeraldton Guardian
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Medical staff moving patient on bed, in hospital corridor
Camera IconMedical staff moving patient on bed, in hospital corridor Credit: Getty Images

Patients at Geraldton’s public hospital went without hot food for 16 days after cyclone Seroja caused widespread power instability across the region.

This comes as the City of Greater Geraldton last week called for an urgent review of the Mid West power network, with one councillor calling the system “old and unreliable”. A WA Country Health Service spokesperson said Geraldton Health Campus did not have “full and stable power” until April 26 — more than two weeks after the cyclone hit.

A Western Power spokesperson confirmed the hospital experienced power instability, saying while power was restored by April 14, it was not reconnected to the South West Interconnected System until April 23.

“When power to Geraldton was being supplied directly from the Mungarra power station after April 14, it was the single source of power to the area and therefore supply was not as secure as it typically is,” the spokesperson said.

WACHS says it didn’t receive word of stable power until April 26.

“As soon as it was (confirmed), the kitchen electricals were inspected, as is normal post-cyclone — here, one of the ovens was damaged,” the spokesperson said.

She said the hospital did not receive any formal complaints and all patients were served “nutritionally balanced cold meals”.

“Many of our staff put their patients first and remained at work while managing damage to their own properties,” the spokesperson said. At last week’s council meeting, Cr Steve Douglas made a motion calling for the State Government to review the power grid, with his motion supported by the City’s executive team and nine of 13 councillors. “This is not a new issue ... all that Seroja has done is bring it to the surface,” Cr Douglas said. “Despite strong calls over the past 10-15 years from the region’s key stakeholders for an upgrade, the section between Three Springs and Geraldton remains an ageing, dual-circuit 132kV line.”

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