Despite Hurricane Damage, Patients Remain Safe in Panhandle Hospitals

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Despite the devastation caused by Hurricane Michael, health officials in the panhandle of Florida are encouraged that the area’s plan of emergency medical evacuation went according to plan.

After damage sustained from Wednesday’s hurricane landfall rendered parts of various medical facilities in Panama City Beach unable to care for their admitted patients, an emergency response was activated to transfer those patients to other area hospitals. Hospitals such as Bay Medical Sacred Heart were forced to employ the use of the US Health and Human Services Disaster Medical Assistance team to evacuate patients to other medical facilities. Patients were transferred all over the region, including to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola and St. Vincent’s HealthCare in Jacksonville. With area hospitals overloaded, facilities as remote as Providence Hospital in Mobile, Alabama even took in some evacuated patients.

As of Friday morning, the front doors at Bay Medical were still boarded up and a variety of crucial services such as water availability had not been restored. Many windows were destroyed during the storm and some auxiliary facilities on the campus had walls ripped off of their foundation. Despite all of the damage, the emergency room still remains open to patients suffering from acute conditions. Because of a host of generators, the hospital never lost power.

During the height of the storm, some parts of the main roof were lifted off and water poured into the facility. Hospital workers scrambled to move patients into areas of the facility as flooding was imminent. Including patients, doctors, and nurses, approximately 1,500 people were forced to ride out the storm at Bay Medical. Because of the detailed implementation of the emergency response plan, no patients had their care interrupted as a result of the storm. By 3 a.m. Thursday morning, a caravan of ambulance vehicles and a fleet of helicopters were at Bay Medical ready to transport patients to neighboring hospitals.

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