Hurricane season runs June 1 through Nov. 30, with September considered the peak of storm season. It is critical to have an emergency kit and a plan in place well before tropical weather is headed our way.
In the event of a severe weather threat or emergency, look for updates regarding hospital services on smh.com, social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), in local news and via other communications channels.
Is SMH a Community Shelter?
Sarasota Memorial Hospital is activated as a designated medical shelter during critical emergency situations, including hurricanes. It is NOT a community shelter/public evacuation center.
Sarasota Memorial is an acute-care hospital, providing lifesaving medical care to patients. As such, its resources are committed to those who need them most.
Sarasota Memorial Hospital is not equipped to serve as a community shelter. To ensure adequate facilities, staffing and supplies for emergencies, we must reserve our rooms for patients and county residents with qualifying medical needs who have registered for assistance through the county’s Medical Needs Program and have been assigned to Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
Medically Dependent Residents
Sarasota County has designated Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH) as a medical shelter during critical emergency situations for SMH patients and for registered residents with qualifying medical needs. The Florida Department of Health has established other shelter locations for people with medical needs that do not require a hospital setting.
If you will require special medical assistance during severe weather threats, please pre-register for assistance with Sarasota County prior to a hurricane or tropical storm: Call Sarasota County’s Call Center at 941-861-5000 or click here. If you have pre-registered with the county, they will contact you for transport to the appropriate shelter as designated by the county.
For qualifying Medically Dependent People (MDPs) assigned to Sarasota Memorial, the hospital will provide:
- Sleeping accommodations — Because our limited number of hospital beds must be reserved for critically ill or injured patients or patients evacuated from other hospitals, not all who are assigned to SMH as a medical shelter will be placed in a hospital bed. Some will be provided with cots, stretchers or recliners.
- Food (predetermined menu) — Sarasota Memorial is unable to prepare special diets for those assigned to SMH for sheltering. Assigned shelterees and their caregivers should bring food if they have special dietary needs.
Sarasota Memorial is unable to provide sheltered medically dependent residents with:
- Medications — Bring a supply of your own prescription medications.
- TV or other entertainment
*Note that the county also offers last-resort transportation to shelters for non-medically dependent residents. Click here for info.
COVID-19 Precautions for MDPs Assigned to Shelter at SMH
Sarasota Memorial will have several COVID-19 precautions in place to safely shelter medically dependent people, who are assigned to the hospital during the 2020 hurricane season, and their caregivers. These requirements are in line with the current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health; they are subject to change.
- Screening — Each MDP and his/her caregiver will be screened before entering SMH; this will include temperature checks (must be below 99 degrees) and questions about COVID-19 symptoms. Those who do not pass the screening will be tested by SMH for COVID-19; those who test positive may be co-horted with other COVID-positive shelterees.
- Masks — All will be required to wear a mask, and frequent hand hygiene is expected.
- Distancing — MDPs and caregivers will be isolated in their assigned room and must remain in the room at all times.
In the event of a hurricane, Sarasota Memorial employees should call the Employee Hotline, 941-917-8799, or visit smh.com/hurricane for updates.