Hospitals and Hurricane Ian: 4 updates

Hospitals and health systems in Florida adjusted their operations in preparation for Hurricane Ian, and at least one facility had reported damage as the storm battered the state.

The storm made landfall Sept. 28 as a category 4 storm near Cayo Costa, Fla. At the time of publication Sept. 29, Ian had been downgraded to a tropical storm, with coastal water levels subsiding on the state's west coast. There is still danger of a life-threatening storm surge Sept. 29 through Sept. 30 along the coasts of northeast Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The federal government declared a major disaster in Florida, opening up federal funding for disaster recovery efforts such as grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs. Meanwhile, more than 2.5 million Florida homes and businesses were without power as of Sept. 29, data from poweroutage.us shows. And hospitals and health systems continue to see the effects of the storm.

Four things to know today:

1. Hospitals have evacuated patients. Louisville, Ky.-based Kindred announced Sept. 28 that it safely evacuated patients at Kindred Hospital Bay Area-Tampa and Kindred Hospital Bay Area-St. Petersburg to other facilities.

Patients were also evacuated Sept. 26 from HCA Florida Pasadena Hospital, the Tampa Bay Times reported. The hospital's CEO, Brent Burish, told the newspaper most evacuated patients were taken to HCA Florida Trinity Hospital in Pasco County. 

2. Hospitals are suspending some services. Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., announced that the main hospital in St. Petersburg remains open but will postpone elective surgical procedures Sept. 27-30. The hospital also said outpatient care locations will be closed Sept. 27 through at least Sept. 29.

Additionally, Clearwater, Fla.-based BayCare Health System said in a Sept. 28 news release that Morton Plant North Bay in New Port Richey and the Bardmoor Emergency Department in Largo are closed. The health system has also closed some medical group offices and urgent care locations.

Ahead of the storm, Tampa (Fla.) General Hospital also announced some ambulatory location closures and canceled elective surgeries and procedures Sept. 28 and Sept. 29. 

3. Hospitals are offering telehealth visits. Altamonte Springs, Fla.-based AdventHealth posted on Twitter Sept. 28 that the health system is offering these visits free during the storm.

In response to the storm, BayCare also said it is offering one free telehealth visit for registered users of BayCareAnywhere starting Sept. 28 through Oct. 12.

4. Part of a hospital roof was torn off. In Port Charlotte, Fla., the storm partially ripped off the roof of the intensive care unit at HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital, a physician who works there reported, according to the Associated Press. The physician also reported flooding on the lower level of the hospital emergency room. Some patients were evacuated to other floors.

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