South Florida hospitals bracing for Hurricane Irma
- A handful of hospitals in southern Florida are evacuating ahead of Hurricane Irma’s likely landfall in the area this weekend, the Miami Herald reported.
- Other healthcare systems have stopped outpatient services and elective surgeries as well as canceled regular physician appointments. Their goal is to be prepared to treat people injured in the storm and take care of those who use life-maintaining medical equipment.
- Hurricane Harvey’s devastating hit on southeastern Texas two weeks ago showed how hospitals can be impaired by record-breaking rainfall and massive wind speeds. Florida healthcare facilities have this in mind as they watch Irma’s path and strength.
More than a dozen hospitals closed in Harvey’s wake and most healthcare facilities in that region will be cleaning up and making building repairs for several weeks at the least. Floridians certainly have experience riding out hurricanes, but it’s difficult to estimate the effects of a storm as powerful as Irma could be at landfall.
Mount Sinai Medical Center CEO told the Miami Herald it is important to note hospitals are not public shelters and that under a hurricane watch “only persons with medical emergencies, third-trimester maternity patients and individuals with special needs previous assigned to Mount Sinai will be accepted.”
All three hospitals in Monroe County are being evacuated and are closed as of Friday morning. That area is under mandatory evacuation. Other hospitals in the greater Miami area are keeping a close eye on Irma and making sure their supplies of food and water are adequate and their generators are working properly.
A number of telehealth companies offered free services to hurricane victims as the impact of Harvey became clear. The have extended these offers to people in Florida affected by Irma. Teladoc states on its website its "doctors can diagnose and treat common conditions, including sinus problems, respiratory infection, allergies, cold and flu sympoms and many other non-emergency illnesses. When medically necessary, we can also prescribe medication."
After the immediate needs of victims of Harvey and Irma are met, the industry will look at assessing the financial damage in southeastern Texas and southern Florida. Investors have said Harvey could influence Texas nonprofit hospitals for years because of reduced patient volume for outpatient and elective procedures.
Raymond James analyst John Ransom told Market Watch the five hospital companies most likely to be affected by Irma are Tenet Healthcare Corporation, Surgery Partners Inc, HCA Holdings Inc., Envision Healthcare and Community Health Systems, which was also affected by Harvey.
Follow Shannon Muchmore on Twitter