Irma Aftermath: Days or Weeks Without Power

* * * UPDATED  9/12/17, 12:39 pm * * *

Fla. health care facilities face long stretch on generator power

MIAMI (AP) — The Latest on Irma (all times local):

12:10 p.m.

Florida’s largest utility says much of the state’s east coast could have power back by Sunday, but other areas could take 10 days or more.

Rob Gould, vice president and chief communications officer for Florida Power & Light, said Tuesday that the utility expects to have power on for most customers along the state’s eastern coast by the end of this weekend. Gould said it would take until the end of Sept. 22 to restore power along the state’s western coast where the damage was much more severe. MORE FROM THE AP AT US NEWS … 

Earlier (9/12/17, 8:09 pm)

Florida hospitals struggle with waves of ER visits, staff shortages

(DANIEL CHANG, MIAMI HERALD) In the wake of Hurricane Irma, Florida hospitals are returning to regular operations, discharging high-risk patients who had sheltered at their facilities during the storm, and preparing for an influx of emergency room visits from people suffering falls, cuts and other mishaps related to the recovery.

But not all hospitals and healthcare facilities are ready to rebound after Irma. As of Monday, more than 435 healthcare centers statewide, including 30 hospitals, 61 nursing homes and 280 assisted living facilities had evacuated for the storm, the Florida Department of Health said.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he had spent much of the day on the phone with nursing home and assisted living facility administrators who didn’t have power. In the Florida Keys, he said, healthcare facilities are stuck without water and sewer service, too.

“Our hospitals are not fully staffed, so our ERs are not fully staffed,” Scott said. “So you have to be really cautious.”

Earlier (9/11/17, 2:07 pm)

Florida hospitals continue to weather Irma as it batters coast

(Paige Minemyer, Fierce Healthcare)

As Hurricane Irma continues to batter the Florida coast, the Department of Health and Human Services has begun recovery efforts in U.S. territories in the Caribbean while Floridian hospitals weather the storm.

An estimated three dozen hospitals in Florida have been forced to close or significantly cut back on operations, according to an article from Health Data Management. Flooding caused by storm surges and far-reaching power outages are the greatest challenges.

Hospitals with large volumes of critically ill patients, like Tampa General Hospital, were forced to ride out the storm despite the storm surge risks, reports the Weather Channel. The hospital, located in a Level A evacuation zone, the most vulnerable, kept 800 patients and several hundred staff and family members on-site as the storm hit.

“We have at least 100 patients on ventilators and we are a burn center,” Ellen Fiss, the hospital’s public relations director, said. “Moving these patients would have put their lives more at risk.”

Some Florida hospitals are pulling double duty as both healthcare facilities and evacuation shelters. The 716-bed NCH Healthcare System in Naples opened its doors to both patients and to hundreds of people seeking safe haven from the storm, reports Naples Daily News. SEE FULL POST AT FIERCEHEALTHCARE.COM

 

Original post: 

Hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living, other health facilities try to cope

(MELANIE EVANS and JEANNE WHALEN, WALL ST. JOURNAL)

Meg Lowman, a conservation biologist in San Francisco anxiously awaited word Sunday from her 88-year-old mother, who was riding out Hurricane Irma in a shelter in her retirement community in Fort Myers.

IMAGE: WFLA, Facebook

Her mother, Alice Lowman, recently switched to a smartphone from a flip phone, and wasn’t answering calls.

Meg Lowman also tried to text her mother, but “I don’t think she knows how to reply,” she said.

 

RELATED: Bracing for Disaster: Health Effects of Harvey, Irma

Millions of other Americans with elderly relatives in Florida can relate. The region is home to one of the nation’s biggest communities of retirees.

One in five Florida residents is age 65 or older, according to July 2016 Census Bureau estimates, compared with about 15% nationally.

The nine southern counties of Florida include 1.3 million residents over 65, of whom 320,000 live alone, according to Census estimates.

Thirty Florida hospitals and nearly 400 nursing homes, assisted-living and other health-care facilities had announced evacuations as of early Sunday evening, according to the state’s Emergency Operations Center.

The frail elderly in Florida’s nursing homes are of particular concern as Florida ordered 6.3 million residents to leave their homes.

The Florida Health Care Association, a trade group representing nursing homes, said nursing-home associations in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi agreed to house some Florida evacuees.

But nursing-home administrators must consider the potential risks of transferring frail residents, said Kristen Knapp, a spokeswoman for the Florida association.

“These are medically complex” individuals who could be trapped in transit as entire communities flee, she said. During Hurricane Rita in 2005, a bus evacuating nursing-home residents south of Dallas caught fire while stuck in traffic, killing more than 20 people.

Administrators of Florida nursing homes that declined to evacuate spent the days before Irma’s arrival inspecting buildings for risks, boarding up windows and stockpiling generator fuel and other critical supplies. READ MORE AT THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. 

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