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Storm Aftermath: Practicing Medicine Without Power

As Massachusetts utilities continue to restore power to all customers following the record weekend snowstorm — about 215,000 left to do, at last count — officials said priority would be given to hospitals and schools.

But at least one private medical practice is without power, yet still seeing patients. "Power is OUT, but we ARE IN," says the website of Children's Medical Office, in North Andover.

Using WBUR's "You Report" call-out, Gail Ansel, the pediatrician's business manager, emailed us (from a home computer, presumably) to detail how the office is coping with the storm.

In its fourth day without power, the staff, Ansel wrote, "is seeing sick kids in the cold, with no computers, no phones and no lights." They moved immunizations to a nurse practitioner's house and are printing out schedules in advance, "so we basically sit and wait to see who shows up."

What about those electronic records everyone's moving toward?

We've been on electronic medical records for years now, so [we] are completely without any records (the only downside to technology, I guess). Parents can't get school forms, shot records or orders for therapies. We can't generate insurance referrals, send in insurance claims or request prior authorizations for medications. (We can use our smart phones for electronic RX, thankfully!)

According to its website, National Grid expects to have full power restoration in North Andover by late tomorrow night.

This program aired on November 2, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Benjamin Swasey Twitter Digital Manager
Ben is WBUR's digital manager. He occasionally reports on economic and transportation policy, climate and social issues, and politics.

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