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100,000 Need Power for Medical Devices


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