September 6, 2017

Hurricane Irma: How Nurses Can Help [updates]

Hurricane Irma: How Nurses Can Help [updates]

By Angelina Gibson

As the hurricane rages on, this story is developing. Check back here for updates.

Updated 9/9/2017 at 11:40pm PST

Over 20 Hospitals throughout Florida, Georgia and South Carolina have been evacuated due to Hurrican Irma, including: 


  • Lower Keys Medical Center
  • Fishermen’s Community Hospital
  • Mariner Hospital
  • Depoo Hospital
  • Sister Emmanuel Hospital
  • HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital
  • Anne Bates Leach Eye Hospital
  • Atlantic Shores Hospital
  • Fort Lauderdale Hospital
  • Tampa Community Hospital
  • Morton Plant North Bay Hospital
  • Medical Center of Trinity
  • Palms of Pasadena
  • Manatee Memorial Hospital
  • Cape Canaveral Hospital
  • Florida Hospital (Ormond Beach, New Smyrna Beach and Apopka)
  • Bapstist Health - Jacksonville Beach and Fernandina Beach facilities. 
  • Riverpoint Behavioral Health


  • Candler Health - Savannah
  • Memorial Health Hospital transferred patients out of NICU

South Carolina

  • Hilton Head Hospital
  • Coastal Carolina Hospital 

Nurses needed in evacuation shelters: visit the website or call 1-800-FL-Help-1 

Updated post 9/8/17 1:58pm PST: 

As Hurricane Irma continues on its path - please share the following resources with anyone who needs them. 


24/7 Florida Emergency Information Line: call 1-800-342-3557

For text alerts: text FLPREPARES to 888777 

Family Reunification - American Red Cross: call 1-800-RED-CROSS or 1-800-733-2767 (to speak to an operator, choose option 1.)

Find a shelter in Florida: filter shelter list according to county and needs. 

Find a shelter in Georgia: this list is continuously updated


Updated post 9/8/17 8:00am PST: 

Hurricane Irma has been downgraded to a stage 4 hurricane - with 150 MPH winds - all forcast models agree that it is heading directly towards Florida and other south eastern states including Alabama and North Carolina. Roads are clogged and gas lines are long as Florida residents rush to make last minute evacuations. 


Updated post 9/7/17 11:00pm PST: 

Mercy Hospital in Miami is the most recent hospital to evacuate it's 200 patients pending the arrival of Hurricane Irma - now, a stage 5 Hurricane. It's emergency department is now closed and the patients are currently being transported to HCA facilities in East Florida. 

The storm ravaged the U.S Virgin Islands - ripping the roof off Roy Schneider Medical Center - the only hospital on St. Thomas.

Lower Keys Medical Center, will close it's doors at 7am on Friday. There will be no hospitals open in the Florida Keys when Hurricane Irma hits - possibly as soon as Friday. 


Original post at 9/6/17 4:07pm PST

Hospitals in the Florida Keys have been given orders to evacuate - pending the arrival of Hurricane Irma.

Patients have started being evacuated from Key West’s Monroe County’s three hospitals - the Lower Keys Medical Center in Key West, Fishermen’s Hospital in Marathon and Mariners Hospital in Tavernier. Tourists have been mandated to leave the islands on Wednesday and all residents are to be evacuated on Thursday.


How Florida Hospitals And Nurses Are Reacting 

Hospitals in the Florida mainland will not be evacuated but, they are preparing for the worst case scenario. During times of natural disaster, hospital staff are expected to remain at the facility and work throughout the storm - usually in shifts. Most hospitals deploy an alpha and bravo shift. The alpha team works throughout the storm and the bravo team relieves them once the storm passes.  

As the hurricane draws near, Luis DeRosa a Registered Nurse at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, was running final errands - before leaving his family behind to report to work. DeRosa has been selected as part of the “Alpha” team at the hospital - he will work at the hospital throughout the hurricane. Just a few days ago he returned home from his deployment in Houston where he served as a Federal Disaster Response Nurse during Hurricane Harvey

He said that during Hurricane Harvey the staff were forced to remain at the hospital for multiple days because the relief shift could not make it to the hospital due to dangerous flooding. Staff were sleeping on floors and lobby couches, “you eat standing up and you make due with what you have. Our first priority is always our patients.” said DeRosa. 

With his cuban coffee, perishable goods and air mattress in tow - DeRosa is preparing to remain at the hospital for days on end. He’ll be away from his family the entire time. He waited in line at the gas station for two hours and had to push his truck to the gas pump. 

Storm Set To Affect Entire State Of Florida 

Though the direct path of the hurricane is still unclear - Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency throughout the state - this declaration will give Florida counties time to prepare. On Tuesday he also activated 100 members of the Florida National Guard. 7,000 more members are scheduled to report to duty on Friday. 

Scott stated, “I think right now everybody's got to assume that you're going to get impacted. This is a big storm — 185 mph. And if you look at all the projections, it's not getting smaller, it's getting bigger.” 


How To Prepare

Mercy Hospital released the following instructions on what supplies ay be needed during and after the hurricane.

Recommended Items to Include in a Basic Emergency Supply Kit:

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
  • Local maps 

Additional Items to Consider Adding to an Emergency Supply Kit:

  • Prescription medications and glasses
  • Infant formula and diapers
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
  • Cash or traveler’s checks and change
  • Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information from
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  • Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children  


Beware Of Price Gouging As Supplies Run Low

The state’s “price gouging hotline” has been activated by Attorney General Pam Bondi. She stated, “Floridians need to prepare now, and they should not be inhibited by unlawful price increases on supplies necessary to brace for a major hurricane strike.” 

Consumers who see massive increases in prices of food, water, hotels, ice, gasoline, lumber and equipment for hurricane preparation compared to last week should call 1-866-9-NO-SCAM (1-866-966-7226) to report the business.

Unfortunately, the same doesn’t apply to some airlines who are suspected of inflating prices for those who are trying to evacuate. Delta was caught raising prices to almost 6 times the normal cost:

But other airlines are doing their part to help people evacuate from Florida by offering travel waivers: 

Jet Blue airlines is capping airline tickets out of Florida at $159

JetBlue’s Florida operations include Daytona Beach (DAB), Fort Lauderdale (FLL), West Palm Beach (PBI), Fort Myers (RSW), Sarasota (SRQ), Tampa (TPA), and Orlando (MCO), according to its website.

A search of flights out of Florida on JetBlue’s website resulted in this at the time of this article.


This Story Is Still Developing

According to the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Irma is now the strongest storm on record in the Atlantic basin outside of the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. Yet, there are two other storms forming -  NOAA captured a photo of tropical storms, Jose and Katie surrounding Irma. 

As the hurricane rages on, the story is developing. Check back here for updates.

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