Florida hospitals returning to normal after Irma

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 - HIE: Big Bend Florida Image

At least 35 Florida hospitals closed ahead of Hurricane Irma hitting the state last weekend, with dozens more still operating on backup power as recovery efforts continue.

According to the Florida Department of Health, more than 435 healthcare centers throughout the state evacuated ahead of the storm, including 61 nursing homes and 280 assisted living facilities. Hospitals in the Florida Keys and some in Miami had moved patients days ahead of Irma making landfall, while others remained open while closing outpatient and ambulatory services.

Operations have now begun to return to normal. Miami-Dade County’s public health system, Jackson Health System, ended its state of emergency Monday afternoon and began reopening outpatient clinics and moving ahead with elective procedures Tuesday. The University of Miami Health System reopened outpatient clinics Tuesday to patients with acute illnesses needing chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Baptist Health South Florida was working on reopening its Mariners Hospital and Fishermen’s Community Hospital in the Florida Keys and had opened many urgent care locations on Tuesday, while promoting telehealth options due to high volumes in its emergency departments.

The Florida Hospital Association (FHA) said as of Tuesday morning, 54 hospitals statewide were operating on backup generators after Irma knocked out power to more than 6.5 million homes and businesses statewide.

“Our goal is to ensure any unmet needs for fuel or other resources are addressed as quickly as possible,” FHA said in a statement. “Hospitals are defined as part of Florida’s critical infrastructure and are given priority for power restoration.”

In central part of the state, Florida Hospital said most of its hospitals have opened, with the exception of Florida Hospital North Pinellas. Urgent care and outpatient clinics were being inspected for damage and the availability of power and water, though some locations had surgeries and services resuming on Tuesday.

“I am so impressed with our team working through the day and night in harsh conditions,” said Daryl Tol, president and CEO of Florida Hospital and the Central Florida Division of Adventist Health System. “Their personal sacrifice is a testament to their dedication to our community and carrying out our mission.”