March 6, 2013

HIMSS Conference: Water Issue Leaves Some Coming Up Dry

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News trickled out of New Orleans Sunday like a small drip from a leaky faucet: municipal officials reported that a fire in the city’s Sewerage & Water Board’s (S&WB) power plant in Carrollton caused the shutdown of what the Times-Picayune newspaper described as Boiler No. 5 – the generator that powers the city’s water treatment facility.

 

In reporting the incident, the Times-Picayune explained to readers how the system built in 1903 runs, describing how “the power plant generates electricity by running tap water through enormous boilers, which create steam to run four turbines that produce 25-cycle power.”

“Natural gas is used to start boilers and turbines, which run singly or in tandem, depending on how much power the system needs,” the newspaper reported. “Once the equipment is up and running, it relies on self-generated steam and a series of natural gas feeds to stay online.”

An advisory issued Sunday also urged residents living on the east side of the Mississippi River to boil their tap water for drinking, brushing teeth and cooking. This includes the city’s French Quarter and the central business district, including the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, site of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Annual Conference & Exhibit.

Although the shutdown reportedly lasted just 20 minutes on Sunday, the effects still were being felt late Monday afternoon among some attending the conference.

There were rumors of HIMSS attendees not being able to brush their teeth, and reports that Starbucks could not provide coffee service.

The situation appeared to be worst on Sunday, when the water issue surfaced citywide.

“Correct about the coffee yesterday (Sunday),” reported Cassi Birnbaum, vice president of health information management for Peak Health Solutions, who is attending HIMSS. “Yesterday morning was really bad, as the water system shut down and volunteers had to use buckets to flush out the system.”

“Coffee was being served at Starbucks, but the line was very long yesterday morning,” reported Cynthia Fry, vice president of revenue for Catholic Health East, who also will be filing dispatches from the HIMSS conference in a series starting tomorrow titled “In the First Person.”

“Just like anything in life, if you look for a problem, you'll find it,” said Beth Friedman, another HIMSS attendee. “The same is true with HIMSS. Yes, there was a water problem: so you drink bottled water. Yes there were long cab lines: so relax and make a new friend. Yes, there isn't a single hotel room available for 30 miles: maybe find a roommate.”

 

 

Chuck Buck

Chuck Buck is the publisher of ICD10monitor and is the executive producer and program host of Talk Ten Tuesdays.