Our clinic had a power outage a few years ago and thousands of dollars of vaccines were lost as a result. Georgia is HOT, and not only were the vaccines ruined, but we had to reschedule appointments until the new replacement vaccines we ordered came in. I’d highly recommend a few steps we now have in place, to avoid this type of fiscal and customer nightmare.
First, make certain your fridge is relatively new. When we got our clinic, we had a stainless steel enameled fridge from the 70s. It could protect from a Soviet blast, but wasn’t reliable at keeping temps. We now have a relatively new fridge and plan on replacing it every few years.
Second, use a separate fridge for vaccines from food, samples, and other items. The fewer times the door opens, the easier it is to maintain the temperature.
Third, get a surge protector on it. A few lightning strikes or shifts in power can fry your fridge.
Those top three are what most clinics we know do. But I’ve got another step that we’re taking, because spending $200 to avoid $5000 in losses seems like a good idea to me. Your mileage may vary.
We bought an APC uninterruptable power supply. (Liebert makes good ones too). It’s not fancy, here’s a link to it, though I am not endorsing any particular model or brand. https://www.amazon.com/APC-BG500-Back-UPS-Pro-500/dp/B00DW2J7SY
This sends out an annoying alarm when power is out. It keeps the fridge running for about 15 minutes. But that’s plenty of time for someone to hear and respond to the alarm.
It also sends out an e-mail-text when connected to your network. Now, if your power is out in your clinic, then your network will likely also be down. BUT, we have a similar unit on our network, so that when the power goes out, the network stays on long enough to for the fridge to tell us it lost power.
And if the power is out, I want the clinic manager, kennel manager, and key staff to know. They are all on the alert e-mail list.
These alerts and alarms give us the time to get to the clinic and move vaccines to a yeti to transport somewhere we have power, or to get the generator up. I have no illusions that Georgia Power will divert resources in an outage for my vaccines, but I have a back-up plan until they do.
Some people buy insurance to cover power outages, and just absorb the deductable. As you can tell, I think there’s an easy and cost effective way, that’s far less than a deductable to protect your inventory and investment, and to make certain your clients aren’t inconvenienced by having to reschedule for another day when you will have vaccines.
So, while we probably should do 1-3, setting up UPS alerts and messages is really a matter of risk appetite and customer focus.
Next up I’ll be discussing the administering of vaccines, starting in part 1 with staff training, education, and customer expectations.
Let’s get better together!