NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Many health care facilities in Florida evacuated in anticipation of a big blow from Hurricane Ian. A Connecticut-based health care emergency management consultant shared what evacuation and disaster response plans Florida hospitals may turn to when Hurricane Ian makes landfall.
Scott Aronson, of West Hartford, was also among those who worked with Yale New Haven Health to create their hospital evacuation plan and said the decision to evacuate a hospital is not arrived at easily.
A cornerstone of a health care facility's disaster evacuation plan is patience because it takes time.
"We think of it as a couple of hours but if I was evacuating Yale New Haven Hospital that that could be something you're talking about over a period of 18 to 24 hours," said Aronson.
He said sometimes that time frame is pushed out to as many as 48 hours.
"So know that all of the emergency responders their goal is to slow down at an evacuation of a hospital unless a threat is internal because you don't wanna do things where you're moving patients and you're not prepared to handle them on the other side," Aronson added.
Evacuating patients in Florida is a gamble, he said.
"We've seen it happen in many situations where in Florida they've actually moved them, evacuated residents and patients, to another hospital or nursing home and then they get hit on the other side and the previous facility was OK," Aronson said.
Also doing OK is a Killingworth couple, who has been staying at their Fort Myers home since before Ian roared ashore.
"It was very, very scary and then you hear roofs moving and metal and grinding and things falling, trees falling," said Linda O'Hara of Killingworth.
They were hunkered down on their horse farm, about 14 miles from downtown Fort Myers.
"For the most part, the roof on the house the main house stayed good," said Tim O'Hara. "We lost some on the barn. But that's all fixable."
The O'Hara's said they will probably keep close to their home because there is a curfew in place to discourage sightseeing.
"We have a whole bunch of friends that are in Connecticut that want us to drive by their place and see how it performed," said Linda O'Hara.
Yale New Haven Hospital officials said that the hospital could not be evacuated during a major storm because it is a level 1 trauma center, which means patients from other hospitals are sent there.
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