After Ian, Massachusetts team treats 500 patients in ED tent complex at Florida hospital

After Hurricane Ian, a team of 37 healthcare workers from Massachusetts treated 500 patients in emergency department tents set up outside of Sarasota Memorial Hospital's Venice (Fla.) campus. 

The team of physicians, nurses, pharmacists, respiratory therapists and pharmacists brought all the supplies required to set up the ED tent complex, including generators and air conditioning units, according to an Oct. 13 news release from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. They worked with the Florida hospital — which was seeing three times the number of patients it usually does — to treat patients with hurricane-related injuries and chronic condition in a weeklong effort. 

"Three weeks before the hurricane, there was a 300-bed hospital nearby that had closed, so Sarasota Memorial in Venice was already seeing a lot of extra volume because of that," said Paul Biddinger, MD, chief preparedness and continuity officer at Boston-based Mass General Brigham. "Then, after the hurricane, three other nearby hospitals were damaged and closed," he said, adding that the hospital's ED was treating between 260 to 270 patients a day, compared to the 80 patients it usually sees.

 "We partnered with them to help offload the strain of trying to see four hospitals' worth of patients beyond their typical workload," Dr. Biddinger said. 

The Massachusetts team of healthcare workers was one of the nation's Disaster Medical Assistance Teams, which exist across the U.S. through the HHS.

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