FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 29, 2023
CONTACT: JULIET HAUSER
Tallahassee, FL – .As Hurricane Idalia makes its way toward Florida, hospitals in regions within the storm’s path stand ready to continue providing high-quality health care to Floridians and their communities. The Florida Hospital Association (FHA) is actively supporting member hospitals and state leaders to identify unmet needs, deliver vital resources, and facilitate safe transfers of patients, as needed.
“Florida hospitals are committed to providing vital access to 24/7 hospital services and emergency departments before, during, and after any major storm. Over the last several days, hospitals have been comprehensively evaluating their facilities, conducting briefings with their staff, reinforcing flood barriers, implementing backup communication systems, testing and retesting backup power sources, and many other components in their emergency plans,” said Mary C. Mayhew, President and CEO of the Florida Hospital Association (FHA). “Hospitals are closely coordinating with state and local officials and determining whether the threat of the storm and their ability to keep patients safe necessitates an evacuation.”
Important steps underway for preparation and response efforts include:
- The FHA is convening daily statewide calls with over 400 hospital staff and state officials to discuss the approach of Hurricane Idalia, hospital engagement, and emergency preparedness and response priorities. Representatives from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, the Florida Department of Health, the Florida Division of Emergency Management, the Deputy State Meteorologist, the Florida Health Care Association, federal partners, and statewide power companies participate in the calls.
- All hospitals are required to report to the state regarding their current bed capacity, any decisions regarding evacuation, and other important information related to the emergency response. All Residential/Inpatient Health Care Providers must submit daily updates on census, bed availability, evacuation and receiving status, power outages, and generator status to the Agency for Healthcare Administration. Hospitals must provide real-time updates about any changes in their status.
- The State Surgeon General signed Emergency Order 23-001, which permits paramedics and EMTs licensed in other states to practice in Florida in response to the emergency, Emergency Order 23-002, which permits mobile pharmacies to operate during the state of emergency and extends the reporting requirement for controlled substances to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program from 1 day up to 30 days.
Preserving operations 24/7 is a top priority for Florida hospitals. Hospitals across the Sunshine State prepare year-round for emergencies such as Hurricane Idalia by hardening critical infrastructure, facilitating active drills, and continually updating their robust emergency response plans. These efforts empower hospitals and their dedicated staff to quickly and efficiently respond when emergencies arise.
“Florida hospitals are committed to remaining open and maintaining 24/7 operations as long as they are able to do so safely and reopening as soon as possible after the storm,” said Mayhew. “Across the Sunshine State, hospitals prepare every day to respond quickly and efficiently when emergencies arise. The Florida Hospital Association is committed to supporting its member hospitals and state leaders during and after Idalia to ensure continuity of care for all Floridians.
Hospitals make significant investments to strengthen infrastructure, upgrade facilities, and make other building modifications that maintain operating capacity when storms hit, like elevating parking lots, installing impact-resistant windows, and installing well systems to ensure water supplies. Hospitals have taken measures to mitigate against flooding, like erecting water barriers. They have also made efforts to safeguard emergency power and communication systems by relocating critical systems to higher floors and implementing alternative hospital communications in the event phone systems or cellular services are affected.
Hospital staff respond to high-stakes emergencies every day, but demands are further heightened when operations are impacted by storms. To prepare, hospitals implement active drills to test their emergency operations plans for key issues. This testing enables staff members to practice performing certain tasks within appropriate timeframes and includes group discussions on clinically relevant emergency scenarios.
Every Florida hospital maintains a robust emergency response plan that is unique to its community and is updated frequently to include best practices on staffing, security, power redundancies, food, water, supplies, medications, equipment, and facility maintenance.
ABOUT THE FHA
Founded in 1927, the Florida Hospital Association (FHA) is the leading voice for health care in the State of Florida. Through representation and advocacy, education, and informational services, the Florida Hospital Association supports the mission of over 200 hospitals and health care systems to provide the highest quality of care to the patients we serve. Led by President and CEO Mary Mayhew, the Florida Hospital Association is located in Tallahassee and is governed by a Board of Trustees and officers elected by the member institutions.