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Storm roundup: What we're hearing about hospitals in Hurricane Florence's path

One emergency department has already shut down; Some hospitals are evacuating, some are taking in patients. All are bracing for the worst.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

As Hurricane Florence slowly unleashes her wrath on the Carolinas, hospitals in the line of fire are taking measures to protect patients and in some instances, are evacuating them. That means other hospitals are bracing not just for Florence but for patients from other hospitals.

According to WYFF 4 in Greenville, several local hospitals have received patients. The station reported that St. Francis Downtown has taken at least six patients, Greenville Hospital System has taken at least 50 and Anmed Health in Anderson at least 11.

Hospitals statewide are updating the state every 12 hours with their bed availability. 

According to 13WMAZ, Grand Strand Medical Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina evacuated more than 300 patients to various hospitals. Myrtle Beach Online reported that the Grand Strand patients were spread out between more than 32 facilities in South Carolina and other southeastern states. There is a 24-7 family reunification phone line at 844-582-2350 for those looking for an evacuated patient.

Other hospitals are operating similar phone lines for their evacuated patients as well, the report said. A Grand Strand spokesperson said some staff members are staying at the facilities to provide assistance and to help facilitate the reopening of each hospital.

According to WFMB, Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital has temporarily suspended emergency services as of 11:15 a.m. Friday.

Another related facility, Tidelands Georgetown Memorial Hospital, was still open and providing emergency services in coordination with county emergency responders.

The emergency departments at Waccamaw and Georgetown were actually ordered to close early Thursday afternoon and got special permission to remain open until "tropical storm force winds" started hitting the area, the report said.

Some staff members are remaining in place so that they can help the hospital resume operations as quickly as possible when they are able. 

Meanwhile hospital systems with substantial footprints in Florence's impact zone are bracing not just for operational stoppages and challenges, but financial ones as well, especially in the third quarter of this fiscal year, according to a CNBC report.

Lifepoint Health has roughly 30 percent of its hospital beds in North and South Carolina in the path of the storm, the largest share of exposure of the systems operating in the region. None of the facilities, however, are in coastal areas. 

Community Health has the next largest share, with 19 percent of the system's beds in Florence's path, then HCA Healthcare with 9 percent. These systems do have hospitals on the coast.

Tenet Healthcare has the lowest share in the region of the major operators. However Tenet has a number of facilities along the coast in areas such Charleston, Hilton Head, North Carolina, and Virginia Beach, Virginia. So if the storm surge expected is as bad as predicted, Tenet could take a major hit, the report said.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
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