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  1. #1
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    Woman on Life Support Dies After Power Company Cuts Electricity

    WELLINGTON, New Zealand A New Zealand mother who needed an electric oxygen pump to breathe died after an energy company cut the power to her home due to an unpaid bill, her family claimed Wednesday.
    Police said they launched an investigation into the death of Folole Muliaga, 44, on Tuesday, in the northern city of Auckland, which happened within two hours of state-owned company Mercury Energy cutting power to her house.
    Mercury Energy's general manager, James Moulder, said the company was devastated by the woman's death and was conducting its own investigation to determine what happened.
    He refused to say how much money Muliaga had owed the company.



    *more at link*
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,276315,00.html

  2. #2
    SewingDeb's Avatar
    SewingDeb is offline "Sorry, I'm not qualified to land the plane."
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    That is so sad and totally preventable.

  3. #3
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    Either that guy is totally heartless or there's more to this story. If family members were there when they cut the power, why didn't they take her somewhere else? Why wait while she suffered for 2 hours until she died? Maybe I'm missing something but I think there's more to this story.

  4. #4
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    How incredibly sad.
    I don't know how things are done in New Zealand, but here in the states whe someone is unable to pay their bills, they can often make arrangements with the utility companies for extentions.......especially if a medical condition warrants the service of the company. Another way to seek needed assistance is to contact local churches. My church helps those in need by paying power bills, phone bills, etc.

  5. #5
    When we had severe power outages here our neighbor called the fire department who brought a generator for their premature grandson's oxygen/ventilator support and they were at the house in under ten minutes. I would hope they do things similarly. I also know you can file for emergency power access.

    This is such a sad and preventable situation I feel really sorry for the family.

  6. #6
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    I don't understand why there wasn't backup in case of an unplanned power failure.

    Locally they say that power won't be turned off for unpaid bills if you have a form on file (signed by a dr) saying you need the electricity to live etc. Don't know what goes on in NZ. So sad for this woman and her family though.

  7. #7
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    I would like to hear the results of this investigation. I work for the electric utility here, and we have not only a program to notify us of a medical need for electricity, but we actually give people that require an electrically powered medical device a discount. I believe that the utility probably had no notice from the customer of the medical condition requiring electricity. Otherwise there would have been a lot of notification prior to the power being disconnected for non-payment. If the family was notified, and then they didn't move the patient to another location, then they are themselves responsible for her death. It is everyone's responsibility to be prepared for the event of an unplanned power outage. What would have happened if the power went out in a big storm and it took hours or even days to restore it? Families with people dependent on electricity to live need to have contingency plans.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lurker View Post
    Either that guy is totally heartless or there's more to this story. If family members were there when they cut the power, why didn't they take her somewhere else? Why wait while she suffered for 2 hours until she died? Maybe I'm missing something but I think there's more to this story.
    "Almost immediately, Muliaga began having difficulty breathing, became faint and then collapsed, he said. Paramedics were unable to revive her, and she was pronounced dead within two hours of the power being cut."

  9. #9
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    I read earlier that it was 122$ she owed. I will try to find the link. http://news.aol.com/topnews/articles...00010000000001

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by RiverRat View Post
    "Almost immediately, Muliaga began having difficulty breathing, became faint and then collapsed, he said. Paramedics were unable to revive her, and she was pronounced dead within two hours of the power being cut."
    Thanks RiverRat, I didn't see that part. When were the paramedics called? If that were someone in my family and some heartless SOB was getting ready to turn the power off, I would've been on the phone with 911 when his truck pulled in the driveway.

    I still think there's more to the story. Why wouldn't the guy call his supervisor and relay what was going on?


  11. #11
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    It seems very odd that there would be no backup plan in case of a power outage from a storm, for example...and if the guy from the electric company was there before the power was shut off, and her family knew about it, why didn't they do something? Or were they assured that the power wouldn't be cut off? I am confused.

    I'm also confused about what type of breathing machine she had that caused her to die when it was shut off. Oxygen tanks do not require electricity to work. Mechanical ventilators do, but an ambu-bag can be used manually to ventilate a patient when the power is off (this is how patients are transported in hospitals, and how people on ventilators were kept alive during Katrina, for example). Again, I would think that the family members of a patient who relied on a ventilator would be trained to use the backup measures in case of power failure.

    Still, the electricity shouldn't have been shut off if the company was made aware of the medical necessity.

  12. #12
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    Woman On Life Support Dies After Electric Co. Cuts Her Power Off

    How sad.

    WELLINGTON, New Zealand A New Zealand mother who needed an electric oxygen pump to breathe died after an energy company cut the power to her home due to an unpaid bill, her family claimed Wednesday.
    Police said they launched an investigation into the death of Folole Muliaga, 44, on Tuesday, in the northern city of Auckland, which happened within two hours of state-owned company Mercury Energy cutting power to her house.
    Mercury Energy's general manager, James Moulder, said the company was devastated by the woman's death and was conducting its own investigation to determine what happened.
    He refused to say how much money Muliaga had owed the company.
    Muliaga, a schoolteacher with four children ages 5 to 20, had been off work since February with an illness when a Mercury Energy representative arrived on Tuesday to disconnect the electricity, said Sheehan, a nephew-in-law of Muliaga's.
    Sheehan said both Muliaga and her son told the technician she was dependent on the oxygen machine to stay alive and invited him into the house to see it, so he knew the situation. (more at link)
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,276315,00.html

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by White Rain View Post
    How sad.

    WELLINGTON, New Zealand A New Zealand mother who needed an electric oxygen pump to breathe died after an energy company cut the power to her home due to an unpaid bill, her family claimed Wednesday.
    Police said they launched an investigation into the death of Folole Muliaga, 44, on Tuesday, in the northern city of Auckland, which happened within two hours of state-owned company Mercury Energy cutting power to her house.
    Mercury Energy's general manager, James Moulder, said the company was devastated by the woman's death and was conducting its own investigation to determine what happened.
    He refused to say how much money Muliaga had owed the company.
    Muliaga, a schoolteacher with four children ages 5 to 20, had been off work since February with an illness when a Mercury Energy representative arrived on Tuesday to disconnect the electricity, said Sheehan, a nephew-in-law of Muliaga's.
    Sheehan said both Muliaga and her son told the technician she was dependent on the oxygen machine to stay alive and invited him into the house to see it, so he knew the situation. (more at link)
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,276315,00.html
    I see a lawsuit about to happen And I hope the family win.

  14. #14
    timetravel is offline care giver of all stray and feral cats who come my way.
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    I agree that the company person sent to turn off the electricity should have phoned his supervisor first....a decision like that should not be left in a technician's hands....
    perhaps only the woman's children were home at the time he arrived? Even if notices had been sent, is it possible she was too ill to deal with them?
    Where I live, in maryland - esp. baltimore city - I can tell you they honestly don't care. Even if you are on total life support - if you don't make arrangements to pay your bill - they will cut you off. Extensions? they give you ONE WHOLE WEEK to pay the turnoff amount before turning you off - there is no such thing as a payment plan. and to top it off, our bills will be increasing by fifty percent next month. my last bill was nearly two hundred dollars for one month. I pay all our bills before spending money on anything else - but if push ever came to shove i'd pay the electric bill before the rent - cause at least if the rent is late you can buy time here.....

  15. #15
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    Oh man this is awful. Were the family members not aware of her unpaid bill? You would think someone would be watching over those kinds of things? When my son was on Oxygen and our power went out due to a bad storm we had portable oxygen tanks we hooked him up to until the power was restored I wonder if she had portable tanks? Or was she on more then oxygen? I need to go back and re-read this story but man this is just an awful thing....

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