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100,000 Need Power for Medical Devices

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

More than 100,000 Floridians depend on electrical power to keep life-saving medical devices running, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The interactive map released Tuesday shows that nationwide, 1.6 million Medicare patients need power for medical devices.

For example, nearly 18,000 Central Florida residents need power to keep ventilators, oxygen machines and other medical equipment running. A prolonged power outage can mean death for these Medicare enrollees, HHS officials said.

The map can be used for planning and to prioritize power restoration during an outage, such as a hurricane. In a crisis, addresses of those with special needs can be released to emergency workers to facilitate evacuations.

Tim Trudell, spokesman for the Orlando Utilities Commission, said the utility currently focuses getting power back to critical infrastructure, like hospitals and fire stations. Then they focus on areas with dense populations.

Florida also has a special needs registry where patients can register for a special assistance in an emergency

Abe Aboraya is a reporter with WMFEin Orlando. WMFE is a partner with Health News Florida, which receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Health News Florida reporter Abe Aboraya works for WMFE in Orlando. He started writing for newspapers in high school. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2007, he spent a year traveling and working as a freelance reporter for the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly, and working for local news websites in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently Abe worked as a reporter for the Orlando Business Journal. He comes from a family of health care workers.