SARASOTA, Fla. – (Sept. 7, 2017) – As Hurricane Irma approaches, the safety of our patients is Sarasota Memorial’s top priority. We have activated our Emergency Operations and Logistics teams, and they are meeting regularly to ensure our hospital, physicians and staff have the equipment, supplies and support necessary for uninterrupted operations and patient care before, during and after the storm.
At this time, we are open and caring for all patients in our main campus and outpatient facilities. We are postponing non-urgent elective surgeries over the weekend and Monday. (As always, it is up to the surgeon's discretion to determine what cases are urgent or emergent.) Sarasota Memorial's Urgent Care Centers (UCC) plan to remain open normal hours Friday and Saturday (8 am to 8 pm). We will make decisions about UCC hours for Sunday and Monday based on the weather forecast.
During the storm, SMH plans to “shelter in place,” meaning we will continue to care for patients 24/7. We have designated teams of medical specialists, nurses and support staff who will stay in the hospital around-the-clock to care for patients throughout the storm, as well as a relief team ready to continue that care and support after the storm passes.
SMH is a designated medical shelter for patients and people with special needs (PSNs) who require hospitalization during emergency situations. PSNs must pre-register for assistance by calling Sarasota County’s Call Center at 941-861-5000 (they should register now). There are other shelters in the county designated for people with special needs who do not require a hospital setting for care. The county will contact registered PSNs to arrange transport to the appropriate shelter before a storm is imminent.
In addition to its admitted patients, SMH also is preparing for the possibility of becoming a receiving facility for patients evacuated from other hospitals, should Irma strike Florida's east coast or other areas. Our main campus planned capacity during a hurricane is approximately 2,000 people. In order to safely care for our patients and PSNs, SMH may ask visitors of adult patients to leave the hospital, while travel conditions are still safe, in advance of the storm.
Our teams are equipped to respond and recover from many hazards that could potentially impact Sarasota County: We have extra medical supplies and backup communications and power systems, including five generators on the third floor of a state-of-the-art, $65 million Central Energy Plant that can power all of the hospital’s current equipment and systems for 10-14 days. We will have sufficient food and drinking water for patients, PSNs and staff, as well as an emergency well to provide for the hospital’s operational needs.
Our buildings are hurricane hardened, with all of the roofs fully adhered and sealed to protect against hurricane-force winds and water intrusion. Should any of our buildings sustain damage from the storm, our on-site hurricane team includes facilities staff equipped to make repairs, and clinical and support teams that can relocate patients or medical equipment to other areas of the hospital, if needed.
In addition to periodic news releases emailed directly to media outlets, information updates will be posted on our website at smh.com and shared via Facebook and Twitter. SMH will use the hashtag “#SMHmedia” for all updates related to emergency preparedness and response. We also will use the same hashtags as Sarasota County government (#941irma and #IrmaSRQ) for information related to Hurricane Irma.
About Sarasota Memorial Health Care System
Sarasota Memorial Health Care System is a regional referral center offering Southwest Florida’s greatest breadth and depth of care, with more than 900,000 patient visits each year. Sarasota Memorial’s flagship 829-bed, acute-care hospital has been consistently recognized as one of the nation’s largest and best, with superior patient outcomes and a complete continuum of outpatient services — from urgent care, trauma and emergency services to laboratory and diagnostic imaging, home health, skilled nursing and rehabilitation. Sarasota Memorial is the only hospital in Florida with the highest five-star ranking from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid for quality and safety.