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St. Luke’s Hospital prepares for Hurricane Irma

As the National Weather Service better determines potential landfall, rainfall, wind speed and damages from Hurricane Irma, St. Luke’s Hospital is meeting to assess the likelihood of different scenarios and how Irma could affect patient care.

“We’ve met with county officials and our own Emergency team to plan and prepare for the worst while hoping for the best,” said Jim Bross, chief executive officer for St. Luke’s Hospital. “We really won’t know until the hurricane makes landfall, but we are prepared to take care of our patients and take care of teammates who may need to shelter in place to provide patient care.”

The hospital reviews food supplies, medications in stock, linens available, and generators with energy to keep them running. St. Luke’s considers the patient census, clinical staffing, a schedule of elective surgeries that could be rescheduled if needed, the call list for staff and the system to alert neighboring hospitals should patients need to be evacuated.

“We don’t anticipate that Irma will hit us hard, but her damage could prevent some of our suppliers from reaching St. Luke’s in the days following,” Bross said. “Most hospitals are preparing for a window of 96 hours when we could be facing adverse conditions.”

It’s important to note that St. Luke’s Hospital will remain open 24/7 for patient care and emergency care, but St. Luke’s must keep beds available for those who are truly sick and need medical care.

It’s important for people to understand that the hospital is not the place to seek shelter and safety. Unless you have a health need or medical issue, people seeking shelter from this storm should reach out to Designated Shelter Sites – Polk County.

To help you, your family and even pets get prepared for this hurricane or other disaster, St. Luke’s Hospital reminds you of the following:

Key Information to Remember

Monitor weather information and facility closings, including school and other community closures.

Begin preparations at the first indication of a potential hurricane.

Develop a family emergency plan and kits. Before an emergency happens, sit down with your family or close friends and decide how you will get in contact with each other, where you will go and what you will do in an emergency. Keep a copy of this plan in your emergency supplies kit or another safe place where you can access it in the event of a disaster.

Put together a basic disaster supplies kit and consider storage locations for different situations. Check emergency equipment, such as flashlights, generators and storm shutters.

Be prepared with extra batteries, dog and cat food, nonperishable foods.

If you are required to work beyond your regular shift, it is suggested that you take the following items with you: Sleeping bag/pillow; Toiletry bag; Personal prescribed medications (you should have medications refilled or prescriptions filled); Change of work clothes and undergarments; Cell phone charger.

“At St. Luke’s, we have practice drills regularly so we are prepared when real disasters happen,” Bross said. “Working with our county emergency officials, the hospital’s emergency team, our teammates, and physicians, we intend to be ready and able to manage any disaster in our community.”

Submitted by Kathy Woodham