Tampa General Hospital, located on Davis Islands south of downtown, is in Level A evacuation zone, in an area the city deems most vulnerable to deadly storm surge. Authorities ordered the mandatory evacuation of residents in Zone A Friday, but the hospital determined it would be too dangerous to move trauma patients.
"We have at least 100 patients on ventilators and we are a burn center," Ellen Fiss, the hospital's public relations director, told weather.com. "Moving these patients would have put their lives more at risk."
The hospital, built in 1927, serves as the region's Level 1 trauma center and treats people with the most traumatic injuries. To be designated as Level 1, certain criteria, including affiliation with a teaching program and the number of patients treated each year, must be met. These types of facilities are open 24/7 and provide the highest level of comprehensive and surgical care to its patients.
During the storm, two teams of physicians, nurses and staff are working five-day shifts caring for patients and providing emergency-room treatment to victims of the storm. After the five days are up, "Team B" will replace them.
Some of the staff had no choice but to bring their children with them to the hospital.
"We encouraged our staff to make arrangements for their children, but some just had nowhere else to take their children," Fiss said.
The hospital is well-prepared to ride out the storm, Fiss noted.
"We are taking this very seriously, and many safety measures have been put in place," she said, noting that the emergency room is located on the second floor, hurricane shutters have been installed and "submarine-type" locking doors protect the hospital's generators and coolers.
"We have made every measure to ensure the safety of patients and staff," Fiss said.
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